Hayden Pedigo, the Texas-born, city council-campaigning, baby-faced 29-year-old, has returned to the scene with a single from his upcoming 6th studio album The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored.
His 2021 LP Letting Go colored the soundtrack of last fall with a cozy, reflective, and bare set of recordings. The music video for one of the tracks “Carthage” is filmed somewhere outside, possibly a backyard. Pedigo sits on an upholstered chair. The sounds of birds singing in the studio version make sense now that we see the music video. It’s late fall, or possibly early spring as the scenery is dead and browning. The trees have no leaves and curve around the frame like Pedigo’s hand around the neck of his guitar. It’s a haunting track that is both stunningly beautiful and achingly lonely.
But this review is about “Elsewhere”.
From first listen, Pedigo is older now, fresh off his success from Letting Go. The new track has more instrumentation: a ghostly steel guitar flanges in the background giving the piece a more recognizable country tone reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris’ The Tucson Sessions. His new album cover has swapped the corpse painted trucker for an ominous blue Pedigo standing in front of a flaming car. His assertions are stronger and more sure of themselves.
At its core however, Pedigo sticks to his Fahey roots. His intentional and rhythmic picking is present and guiding. His specific flare is noticeable in the unadulterated beauty he infuses in this song. At one point, a little before the one and half minute mark, there’s a musical turn–like a Roche-style crank, that is quintessentially Pedigo. The descending notes are a relief; from the tension he’s built in the song or maybe from external forces acting on the listener, or maybe just a spiritual upheaval you didn’t know you needed. In any case, “Elsewhere” is an earnest reflection on what has come before: an ode to all those moments that have made Pedigo who he is but also a recognition of the years left to come. After all, he is still young.
The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored will be released on June 30, 2023 via Mexican Summer.