Kurt Hagardorn – Ten Singles

Kurt Hagardorn
Ten Singles

Quite honestly my initial reaction was to wrinkle my nose at the thought of listening to another album where a singer-writer was attempting to craft alt. country tinged pop tunes. But this album really surprised me. Upon first listen I liked it but on the second listen it grabbed a hold of me and it was all over.

Since the album was written and recorded between 2000 and 2006, it makes some sense that the songs themselves would be quite varied. In many cases when artists craft an album in this manner it ends up feeling disjointed, whereas the songs here all work well together. In fact, part of the charm with this collection is the fact that each and every song is so different. One minute you may be listening to a country ballad but then the next your jamming out to a rockin’ power pop tune.

“Those happy days are here again / so while they last / let’s raise a glass” rings through the first track, “International Travel Advisory”, over piano, buzzing electric guitars and a driving beat. A look in to the possibilities of what it would be like to go back into the happy memories of one’s past, this track blends musical and vocal styles of previous generations with an updated feel and even the occasional occurrence of some electronic beats. He even manages a slick guitar solo without being too showy.

“You Are My Girl” follows with a straight up alt country tune with twangy guitars and sweet harmonies. The upbeat track rides along on happy lyrics about having got the girl of his dreams and the happiness that abounds. But what follows in “Yesterday and Tomorrow” is also an alt country tune but with a completely different sound. It is a simple song, but also one of my favorites. Finger-picked guitar opens up with pedal steel and an immediately sad tone as he sings of moving out west and attempting to leave his past behind him along with all of his worries. The vision of him sitting in a diner with a cup of coffee in the morning is the perfect image of optimism.

Another side to Ten Singles comes in the form of downright rocking tunes like “You Never Know” and “Rock Scissors Paper” with driving electric guitars and beats that will get up on your feet. From The Beatles to The New Pornographers, these tunes prove that while he may have a knack for crafting beautiful ballads this artist can also let loose and rock while still maintaining the nicely layered vocals that are heard throughout the album.

The beautiful album closer, “It’s OK it’s Allright” shows that he has mastered a beautiful blend of vocals that sits somewhere between The Beach Boys and Elliot Smith. It has both a warm tone and yet a hint of sadness. The song brings this album of experiences to a close nicely. By this point you feel as though you’ve followed Hagardorn through some of his very own life events and yet there is a certain amount of relatable material.

With lines like “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow’s never begun” in “Yesterday and Tomorrow” Hagardorn is able to bring you into his music where you might find yourself contemplated your own experiences rather than just listening to those of another. He excels at each of the genres he packs into the album and blends his influences seamlessly into a sound that uniquely his own. This is certainly an album with a timeless quality and charm that is not easily found among artists these days. This is one of those very rare gems indeed.