Album Review: Claude Hay - I Love Hate You

8 January 2013 | 4:41 pm | Carley Hall

Overall, it’s a likeable rogue of an album and an ultimate treat.

It's a rare instance when a blues and roots release is actually just that. Buying recording time at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis and mixing at his own Vader Studios, Blue Mountains troubadour Claude Hay has crafted his third album, I Love Hate You, with the rugged independence that makes most independently-crafted albums such a rewarding listen. Borrowing the talents of fellow roots brethren Chase The Sun for a couple of tracks, Hay's swampy blues and bittersweet reflections on the everyday make for an entertaining album on many more levels than just an aesthetic one.

There's almost a bit of Jack White's bluegrass running through the opening song, the double-tracked vocal giving it the funk meets hard rock edge alongside stomping dirty guitars with a clean kit slicing in between. Good Times and Stone Face follow that familiar upbeat roots formula, Hay's wail full of derision over sparse twanging guitar noodles. He unleashes the often-mandatory racing guitar foot tapper in Best Days but the infectious chorus lifts it above the ordinary. It's refreshing to hear him change gears to offer a bit of downbeat crooning on Close and even more rewarding to get a glimpse of his impressively controlled vocal range without additional tracking behind it, evoking a likeness to Chris Cornell's pipes. Some climactic electric guitar work and falsetto make it an uncharacteristic highlight.

Hay's brand of raw and energetic roots will certainly find a welcome home in the genre, Narrow Mind's call to arms and Don't Bring Me Down's '70s bluesy hard rock and ballpark keys likely to make it especially so. Overall, it's a likeable rogue of an album and an ultimate treat.