Following the major press hype surrounding his first album, the 1995 home-made effort Everything I Long For, Toronto’s Hayden receded from the camera flashes and microphones and relaxed for a while.
The result is a quiet and thoughtful record, one that is well-reflected in its serene cover art of shadowy trees and a light-sprinkled tent. Paul Hayden Dresser writes meditative music, the kind that best suits the wee-small hours of the morning.
Though there are strains throughout of banjo, cello, harmonica, pedal steel and various keyboards and percussion, it is primarily Hayden’s lonesome, whiny baritone that sets the album’s melancholy mood. There are a few up-tempo moments and some lovely instrumental passages, but the personality and richness of The Closer I Get comes from the texture and tone of his voice.
It’s the way Hayden manages to make such simple melodic patterns worm a path into your soft tissue that makes you want to hear them again, to confirm the tender spot into which they’ve lodged themselves. With a bit of good fortune, Hayden, still being a relative youngster, will not burn out from the suffocatingly dry heat of media lights and will continue to write solid, introspective songs for a long time to come.