Meghan Hayes
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Meghan Hayes

Nashville, TN | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE | AFM

Nashville, TN | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Americana Adult Contemporary


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""Meghan Hayes Consistently Challenges Musical Genres""

Some musicians defy classification. They cross genres and mix styles
with abandon. Somewhere at the intersection of rock and country, you'll find singer-songwriter Meghan Hayes.

Hayes' songs play like rock, but her voice is filled with the unpretentious honesty of country; think Mary Chapin Carpenter and
EmmyLou Harris. But where some musicians give you the impression that they're trying a new style the same way they'd try on new hat, Hayes is consistent in her indefinable style, and it's a sound that suits her perfectly.

It's understandable that her music walks the line between genres given that she counts artists as diverse as Van Morrison and Eminem among her influences. For Hayes, the most important part of songwriting is telling a story and capturing the essence of the person she's writing about.

"I think my taste in music is pretty wide. I love blues as much as I
love blue grass," Hayes said. "I love people who tell a story.
(Singer-songwriter) Lucinda Williams is practically my idol. She's an amazing storyteller. She can tell a story in three words."

On her first album, "Snow on the Waves," Hayes told stories about her nomadic childhood, spent shuffling across the country between her mother's home and father's home. On her latest release, "Go and Give the
Guard a Break," she turns her attention to the people she's met in her 10 years living in the Washington, D.C., area.

"('Go and Give the Guard a Break') is about what happens when you get to be around people for more than nine months at a time," Hayes said.

Knowing that, it's impossible not to wonder about people who inspired
the at-times unflattering character sketches on the album. There's the
obsessed lover in "I'm Not Leaving" (from which the album's title is
taken), the master of self-deception in "Desert," and the lost soul in "Three O'Clock." Of course, it stands to reason that troubled people who make questionable decisions are more interesting songwriting fodder than, for instance, a perky lottery winner. Hayes herself is the "little
lady with the microphone saddled with a default loan" from the song
"Four Tables and a Chair" -- reference to the fact that she has
self-produced both of her albums.

Despite the fact that she's recording without the backing of a recording label, she does have backing from some very accomplished musicians. The
tight-knit music community around Arlington, Va., has been supportive of Hayes. The new album features work by guitarist Brad Rice (Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown), Paul Wood (Phaser) and Jon Carroll, keyboardist for Mary
Chapin Carpenter and a founding member of the Starlight Vocal Band -- that's right, of "Afternoon Delight" fame.

"Jon Carroll came into the studio and he had arranged five of the
songs," Hayes said. "I had been hoping that he might do one song. So then I was in this really awkward position of having to tell him that I hadn't planned on having him on these other two songs."

The result of her collaboration with outside musicians and songwriting
help from members of her touring band, the Cranky Heartburn Band, is an album that doesn't sound at all homemade. It pairs the sheen of polished production with the heartfelt edginess of Hayes' lyrics.

Hayes said she doesn't expect to become a millionaire making her own music, but she does think she can make a living. After listening to "Go and Give the Guard a Break," that certainly seems like a reasonable goal.

-- Michelle Isham (For the CDT ) - Centre Daily Times

"Review of Meghan Hayes "Go and Give the Guard a Break""

Singer-songwriter Meghan Hayes often leaves a lot of things unsaid, inviting everyone to read between the lines, not unlike some of her influences, notably Bob Dylan. Clearly, she'd rather have us sort things out ourselves.

Which is why "Go and Give the Guard a Break" is far more intriguing than your average batch of tunesmith musings. Beginning with "I'm Not Leaving," about a relationship that appears to be hanging by a thread, Hayes constructs dramatic vignettes that beg the same question: How did these people get here? Hayes offers some clues now and then, but it's up to listeners to imagine the prologue for this sad ballad or the emotional back story for the similarly well-crafted songs "Desert," "Three O'Clock" and "Voice Like Mine." An exception is "The Brighter They Come," in which Hayes begins with a verse that points at the pain to come: "The first time that you met him you knew that you'd never leave / You still don't know what that boy had up his sleeve / There was a needle on the record and another in his arm / The brighter they come, the darker the harm."

Though her songwriting is uniformly lean and vivid, Hayes isn't always mining misery for material. "Branson," an offbeat interlude, displays her wry humor. What's more, Hayes and her bandmates, including guitarist Dave McKittrick and keyboardist Jon Carroll, frequently punch up her songs with pop and country-tinged verve. Still, the basic appeal is in the sorrowful details here, spoken and unspoken, and in the sound of Hayes's soulful soprano.

-- Mike Joyce

- The Washington Post

""Roots Music, Pop and a Twist of Dylan""

Meghan Hayes brings an inviting voice, often with a Dylanesque swagger and lyrical twist, to her 2005 release, “Go and Give the Guard a Break.”

The title of Hayes’ new CD comes from a line in the opening track, “I’m Not Leaving,” a great little breakup song (at least that’s what it appears to be on the surface) with the choice comeback… Go and give the guard a break/He’ll never get what I won’t take/I’m not leaving, I’m just not coming back.

As with Dylan, a closer listen brings some pondering. Is it really about a romantic relationship that has reached the point of no return? Or, is it about moving on in life?

Either way, the lyrics seem to indicate something more is happening here… You always skip before you run/I’m not why you came undone.

Hayes follows that lineage that stared with Emmylou Harris in the ‘70s of female artists -- singers and singer/songwriters -- in pursuit of Americana and intelligent, heartfelt insight.

Actually, after a listen to “Go and Give the Guard a Break,” it’s an easy stretch to say that Emmylou could easily show up as a guest vocalist on Hayes’ next studio release -- it is of that caliber -- and their two voices would make for some powerful harmony.

The 11 original songs on “Go and Give the Guard a Break” grab the listener’s attention the first time around -- a nice touch in today’s throwaway song world.

Standout cuts include “Nothin’ Doin’,” “Four Tables and a Chair,” “Branson” and “Constantine.”

Nothin’ Doin’ and Four Tables are friendly, gentle rockers that seem to offer a hint of Sheryl Crow.

Branson offers the view of possibly one too many days and nights on the road punctuated with sunny pop music moments fired by trumpet player Steve Eisen.

In its own subtle way, Constantine seems to be the lyrical, emotional and production high-water mark of “Go and Give the Guard a Break.”

For Hampshire County music fan, Hayes’ April 15 concert in Romney -- this Friday night at The Bottling Works -- holds one of those rare opportunities to experience a talented singer/songwriter in an intimate acoustic setting, while at the same time picking up her CD and checking out the top-notch studio versions of her songs.

David McKittrick, who shared production credits with Hayes and lent his tasteful guitar work on each cut of the new CD, is scheduled to join Hayes for the Bottling Works show.

All that. And, the possible historical note of saying, “Oh, yeah. I saw Meghan Hayes in ’05 right when she started turning heads.”

-- Michael O’Brien
April 13, 2005 - Hampshire Review

""Rising Star: Meghan Hayes in Concert April 15""

Performers Studio is bringing up-and-coming singer-songwriter, Meghan Hayes, to the Romney Bottling Works on Friday, April 15 at 8:30 p.m.

Hayes has been playing to standing room only crowds from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and The Washington Post describes her as “… an engaging songwriter,” her lyrics “lean and vivid” with “wry humor.”

Along the way, she has shared the stage with major label acts and gold record-sellers such as Freedy Johnston (Elektra), Tift Merritt (Lost Highway), Amy Correia (Capitol), Jeffrey Gaines (Artemis) and many more at venues like the Birchmere, Tin Angel and State Theater.

Music pros such as Mary Chapin Carpenter bandmates John Jennings and Rico Petruccelli contributed to her debut record “Snow on the Waves.”

On her latest, 2005’s “Go and Give the Guard a Break,” Hayes continues to offer up her “soulful soprano” and cut-above original songs.

The man behind Performers Studio, Larry Brown of Romney, recently conducted an interview with Hayes.

The following are a few excerpts from that interview:

Your new CD, “Go and Give the Guard a Break” is an impressive work, how’d the project go?
Hayes: Putting together a CD is like pulling teeth, only worse. I am lucky enough to have an amazing band and the best producer in the world, along with a very patient engineer and recorder (all of these being Dave McKittrick), but I am too close to the recent process to even want to talk about it… it's the hardest work I've ever done, and I'm still crying little tears of pain over the process.

How did you come up with the title for the CD?
Hayes: It's a line from the first song "I'm Not Leaving”… I've been alone for so much of my life, and I've been on the outside looking in, and whether I was aware of it or not, I've always had to protect myself. But now, I have days where there's a little bit of peace. Sometimes I get that feeling like you do when it's the first days of spring and the world seems softer and so it's like, "let down your guard, babe!"

Weren’t you out west recently?
Hayes: I spent a few weeks in January and February on the West Coast touring and it was such a great experience. I forget just how generous and curious people are. I met some amazing folks out there, including Amelia Ray, who is a phenomenal songwriter, and found it to be really a boost to meet new audiences and other musicians.

Ray is scheduled as the opening act for Hayes at the April 15 concert in Romney.

The Bottling Works concert is free and donations are appreciated. An open mic session will be held after the concert.

Performers Studio is sponsored by LD Brown Arts in cooperation with the Loy Foundation.
- Hampshire Review

""Recording Artist Meghan Hayes in Romney...""

ROMNEY, W.Va. - The popular open mic venue, Performers Studio, is bringing nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Meghan Hayes to the Romney Bottling Works on April 15 at 8:30 p.m.

Hayes, of Arlington, Va., has been bowling over audiences and critics alike as she tours the country promoting her new CD, "Go And Give The Guard A Break." Playing to standing-room-only crowds from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Hayes has received critical acclaim for her new CD. This comes as no surprise, her first CD, "Snow On The Waves," was named best album of the year in 2000 by the Arlington Journal.

When asked her music influences, Hayes said, "I grew up listening to Dylan, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen. Those are my major influences sonically and lyrically." Her work speaks for itself with sharp-witted Dylanesque ly-rics, a potent attitude that feels like Morrison and poignant imagery reminiscent of Springsteen.

The Washington Post describes her as an "intriguing and engaging songwrite," a "soulful soprano"; her lyrics "lean and vivid" with "wry humor." One critic compared her to a combination of Lucinda Williams and Alanis Morrisette but in the end relinquished that Meghan is like Meghan, no one else. As she moves up the ranks of success, critic Baba O'Riled reviewed her work quoting a line from the popular TV series "The Sopranos," saying, "ignore (her) at your own risk."

Such pros as Mary Chapin Carpenter and band mates John Jennings and Rico Petruccelli contributed to her debut record. It also included work by fiddler and Grammy nominee Mike Stein, Kenny Haddaway, Tommy Lepson (of Lazy Boys fame), and members of the Air Force Band. Also, Jon Carroll, keyboardist for Mary Chapin Carpenter and founding member of the Starland Vocal Band, can be found on her CD and sometimes with her on stage.
Her new CD, with 11 distinctive rock songs, gets inside your head with subtle edgy images. The first track on the album, "I'm Not Leaving," has just been released by Chair Records as a 7-inch vinyl single. The new songs reflect close collaboration with her band members and a half-dozen outside musicians, including: Brad Rice of Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown; Paul Wood of Phaser; Jon Carroll, keyboardist for Mary Chapin Carpenter; guitarist John Ward of Villa Rosie; vocalist Mary Anne Redmond, former Motown prodigy and fixture on the Washington, D.C. R&B scene; and jazz musician Steve Eisen, who contributed both trumpets and flugelhorn.

Meghan will perform with her co-producer and lead guitarist, Dave McKittrick, who has been a fixture in the Washington, D.C. area music scene for decades as performer, session player, producer and recording engineer. His playing style is one of fluidity and nuance, which one reviewer characterized as "beautiful sonic needlework." Together, Dave and Meghan create a musical atmosphere that audiences seem to find captivating. Opening for Meghan will be San Francisco singer-songwriter Amelia Ray.

The Bottling Works is located on Main Street. Admission is free and donations are appreciated. Support from the Loy Cultural Foundation and the Hampshire Technical Consortium make this performance possible.
- Cumberland Times-News

"Vol. 33, June 2005"

For a moment, I thought I was listening to a new Natalie Merchant CD when I popped in Go and Give the Guard a Break, from Arlington Virginia's Meghan Hayes. Her music has been labeled everything from folk-rock, to alternative pop, to new Nashville. But it doesn't really matter what you call it; I call it good. She's got a little rock in her, a little country, a little folk, but mostly a lot of spunk and spirit. Meghan's relatively new on the music scene but she is far from a beginner. She began writing and performing as a way to combat travel fatigue as she traversed the U.S. and Europe as a youth. Environmental Law and Landscaping Design were not enough of a profession to keep Meghan's interest. Her passion to perform drew her back on the road and found her in the middle of a music career complete with a backpack of CDs chock full of riveting songs and powerful music. In 2004 she was runner-up in the Mid-Atlantic Songrwriter's Contest and Go and Give the Guard a Break was cited as one of 2005's best records at the DIY convention in Los Angeles. I'm most fond of the lead track, "I'm Not Leaving." - Singer Magazine

"Indie Friday Guest"

You never know what it is about an artist that's going to catch your interest. Yes, in her cover note Meghan Hayes revealed we're both Springsteen fans, but what most piqued my curiosity about this album initially was the name of Hayes' music publishing company. Cranky Heartburn Music? Okay, this one's gotta be worth a listen or three.

And so it is. Hayes is an Arlington, Virginia-based singer-songwriter who blends a variety of styles together to create one that's all her own. Take Mary Chapin Carpenter-style country-folk introspection, spice with early Sheryl Crow gritty-pop, fold in the musical eclecticism and oblique lyrics of a Suzanne Vega, and you have the intriguing jambalaya of sounds Hayes fuses together on this, her sophomore independent release.

It's a disc full of songs that feel simple on the surface but grow more complex and full of shadings with every listen. Kickoff track "I'm Not Leaving" -- an appealing, upbeat slice of acoustic country-folk that features piano from longtime Carpenter bandmate Jon Carroll -- feels at first like yet another clever kiss-off song ("I'm not leaving / I'm just not coming back"), but ends up leaving the door wide open for other interpretations.

This trend of obscure meaning layered over bright, interesting arrangements continues throughout the rest of the disc. I won't even pretend to understand what "Constantine" is about, but I know good poetry when I hear it, and the choice to embellish this mid-tempo number with flugelhorn is brilliant. Similarly, the meaning of the words to the meditative "Three O'Clock" is unclear to me, but the use of accordion to lend warmth to its generally somber tones is perfect.

"Nothin' Doin'" is one of the more straightforward cuts here, a song about a night on the town with a friend in which they seize the moment by simply enjoying each other's company. It features an upbeat, somewhat country-rock arrangement and a catchy chorus: "Nothing is the only thing worth doing tonight / Nothing's the only thing that's right."

For more evidence of musical variety we turn to "Voice Like Mine," whose funky, percussive opening section bursts out into a straight-ahead rocker. It actually sounds a bit like the Go-Gos in their prime, if you manage to ignore the fact that the lyric is a bizarre collage/barrage of disconnected images and clever rhymes, punctuated by a blistering guitar solo.

Down the line we find other notables in "Branson," an amusing laundry list of second-rate vacation spots leading into the punchline of "Take me to Branson"; "Four Tables And A Chair," whose r&b/hip-hop rhythm track bounces along under lyrics that read like an odd poem and Hayes' distinctly Tuesday Night Music Club Sheryl Crow vocals (favorite line: "I strain for what you say / You get more done when you mutter"); and the closing "The Brighter They Come," a poignant acoustic number about a woman in love with a man with a habit.

Go And Give The Guard A Break -- whose unwieldy title is taken from a line in "I'm Not Leaving" -- is a great introduction to Hayes' original and appealing style. Meghan Hayes is a prodigious talent, both an imaginative, original songwriter and a singer with a gift for wrapping her voice around a song. Highly recommended, cranky heartburn and all.

-- Jason Warburg

- The Daily Vault

"The Bargain Basement:"

Alan: Laid-back rootsy AC rock with brilliant vocalist. Excellent lyrics, very well-produced, catchy tunes - and on key!

William: Joan Baez electric. She can sing and write, the band can play. Better than we deserve.

Charles: Country rock fusion gumbo done well a la Jane Siberry meets Deana Carter.

- Hybrid Magazine

"Go & Give the Guard a Break"

This is Ms. Hayes'sophomore CD, following the quietly successful "Snow on the Waves." Although this is my first exposure to the Arlington, VA-based songwriter's music, this is one of those CDs that makes you feel like you have known the artist forever. It's like reconnecting with someone you went to high school with and haven't seen in a while: it's new and different yet also familiar on some level. Hayes seems to struggle a little bit to find balance on this album though. The songs jump back and forth a bit; it feels like she knows what she wants stylistically from each one but she can't always get them to work together as an album. The uptempo "Desert" is one of the strongest tracks and is certainly proof that she's an artist to keep your eye on. The off-kilter "Constantine" is probably my favorite though. It has a sort of uncomfortable feel to it that totally intrigues me. If you are a fan of mid-tempo full band singer/songwriter music with a heart as big as Texas, then check this out.

- CHT Reviews


CDs (Cranky Heartburn Music):
Snow on the Waves, 2000
Go and Give the Guard a Break, 2005

Compilation CD (Red Beet Records, 2006):
The Other Side: Music from East Nashville

7" single (Chair Records, 2005):
"I'm Not Leaving" b/w "The Brighter They Come (version)"



After two critically acclaimed albums, opening dates with some of country and rock’s top musicians, and appearances at some of the most storied venues across the country, Meghan Hayes has landed in Nashville to write her third record and lend her lyrical talents to other musicians.

Meghan has drawn on the musicians of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Son Volt, Roy Orbison, and many more to produce what the Washington Post calls “dramatic vignettes” that are a mix of “pop and country-tinged verve.” According to the Hampshire Review, “Hayes follows that lineage that started with Emmylou Harris in the ‘70s of female artists -- singers and singer/songwriters -- in pursuit of Americana and intelligent, heartfelt insight.”

She has opened for a diverse group of musicians, including Hal Ketchum, Tift Merritt, and Robbie Fulks, and has performed at venues like CBGBs (New York), The Birchmere (outside of Washington, DC), and Genghis Cohen (Los Angeles). Her first record, “Snow on the Waves” was called one of the ten best of 2000 (Arlington Journal) while her second album, “Go and Give the Guard a Break,” was cited as one of top records at 2005’s Los Angeles DIY convention. The release of “I’m Not Leaving” as a seven-inch vinyl single earned her a semifinalist nod in the 2005 Mountain Stage New Song contest and 2nd Place in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriter's Contest.

“Her music has been labeled everything from folk-rock, to alternative pop, to new Nashville,” says Singer Magazine. “But it doesn't really matter what you call it; I call it good.” PopMatters calls Meghan “a songwriter capable of sharp introspection and character examination…resting somewhere between the literacy of Aimee Mann and the mass market sheen of Sarah McLachlan.” The Cumberland Times-News says “her work speaks for itself with sharp-witted Dylanesque lyrics, a potent attitude that feels like [Van] Morrison and poignant imagery reminiscent of Springsteen.” On stage, Meghan is known for her “wry humor” (Washington Post), “bowling over audiences and critics alike” (Cumberland Times-News).

Not bad for an artist that, by her own admission, is just entering her prime.

“Both of my albums have been a search for my sound and voice,” says Meghan. “I’m proud of the records, and owe major props to the reviewers who have been nice to me, but sometimes you just know, deep in your gut, that you’re about to hit on something really special.”

And what will Meghan reveal with her next batch of songs?

“They are coming in two very different waves,” Meghan says. “One set are definitely songs that I’ll record, probably sometime in 2007, for my third record. These are story-based songs, lyrical, but not as overtly poetic as what I’ve written in the past. But definitely melodic and twangy. The second batch are just as good, I think, but I’ve been writing a lot of these songs with other writers and I expect they’ll be better for other performers.”

For a hint about the direction of her next record, it makes sense to turn to “A Birthday in a Pawnshop (Morristown),” a track Meghan recorded in July 2006 for the Americana compilation “The Other Side: Music From East Nashville.” Both sparse and sweeping at once, “Morristown” is an ode to a lost family in a lost town, with a dark, surprising twist at the end. The compilation features notables such as Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, and Last Train Home.

Meghan grew up traversing the United States and Europe – she moved 18 times in 18 years -- and began writing and performing as a way to combat her travel fatigue. Seeking a break from her nomadic early years, Hayes attended Swarthmore College, where she studied English and Ecology. It was also where she earned her stripes as a poet, which would so influence many of her early songs.

To support her first album and early tours, she tried her hand at everything from tree surveying to environmental law to landscape design. In early 2006, Meghan moved from Arlington, Virginia to Nashville.

Meghan's songs have been played on stations across the country and satellite radio. Her second record was a top ten on Twangcast’s Texas Music Chart. Internationally, she has been featured in Belgium's esteemed "Rootstown" magazine and The Daily Vault might sum it up best: “Meghan Hayes is a prodigious talent, both an imaginative, original songwriter and a singer with a gift for wrapping her voice around a song.”

-- written by Amy Taylor