Mitch Hayes

REVIEW: Mitch Hayes “Gentle Man”


Mitch Hayes – Gentle Man

At first glance, I thought this would be a shmaltzy collection of reminisces dedicated to a family member who has passed. And it is. But it’s far from shmaltzy. It’s actually quite an impressive work. It’s done with class, respect & the majority of the songs are strong, well-recorded & performed.

Mitch Hayes

The 8 songs were independently released as Gentle Man (Drops June 9) & were produced by Paul Demer in Dallas, TX. What’s evoked here is something that any listener can relate to since eventually, we all experience such loss, sadness & we’ll have to draw upon memories to summon their spirit. I’ve been there, so maybe I more closely relate to this.

North Carolina’s Mitch Hayes has shaped his tunes carefully & poignantly. There’s sadness but Mitch doesn’t pour a syrupy ‘feel sorry for myself’ rationale to it. He sculpts the songs as if some were traditional, vintage & have been around for decades. Pretty clever.

This effort is Mitch’s 4th character-driven album. Hayes’ vocal is not like an old sage but a confident vocalist rendering tales & keeping the majority heartwarming. “Carolina Calling,” is a violin-driven snappy tune in the tradition of bands like Charlie Gearhart’s Goose Creek Symphony.

Mitch has a 70s country-folk-Americana feel to many of his compositions. They can veer across many styles that anyone from Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, or even Jerry Garcia could interpret. With “What I Pretend,” its country traversed by cello. Amazing to even consider such an instrument in that genre. But with these types of songs, it works. The album is dedicated to Mitch’s father Phil who must have made an indelible impression on his son to earn such a lovely collection of songs.

The strongest, most impressive tune is “Belly of the Beast,” which is quite weighty. Well done. Spooky. Mitch really interprets this with spirit. Even heavy metal-grunge artists would envy this vividly demonstrated dark tune. Mitch’s vocal infuses these lyrics with an abundance of guts.

Highlights – “Don’t Have to Hide,” “Gentle Man,” “Carolina Calling,” “What I Pretend” & “Belly of the Beast.”

Musicians – Mitch Hayes (lead vocals/acoustic guitars/percussion/banjo), Paul Demer (acoustic & electric guitars/bass/percussion/bgv), Erin Hayesoweth (bgv/flute/distorted flute), Logan Bowers (drums/percussion), Ben Grace (organ), Nathan Shores (cello), Aaron Fabbrini (pedal steel), Zach Light-Wells (banjo), Tom Demer (violin/viola/fiddle) & Melanie Demer (violin/viola).

Color image courtesy of Mitch’s website. CD @

Song premiere –

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