Ted Hajnasiewicz releases new LP
In the same Twin Cities that once gave us such legendary performers as Paul Westerberg and Grant Hart, hybrid folk/rock artist Ted Hajnasiewicz has shaped a sound that owes as much to Heartland roots music as it does raw and rambunctious rock and roll. That sound is captured and summarized in his latest album This Is What I Do, which compiles eleven songs that have come to symbolize his honest aesthetic and penchant for bucolic songwriting. Boasting such hits as “This Town is Not for Me” and “Stars and the Sea,” fans won’t be let down by the sprawling size of this LP – nor the modern sonic treatment it gives these precious compositions.
“Wedding Coat,” “I Give Myself” and “You Will Find Him on a Mercy Seat” are really patient and slow churning in comparison to the underlying aggression that is to behold in “If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow,” “Oh! Sweet Love” and “Burning Bridges.” This contrast is one of many layers in the multidimensional personality behind the verses of these songs, but it isn’t so intimate a juxtaposition that the music devolves into self-indulgence. Hajnasiewicz is plaintive and easygoing, even when the mood is skewed by rough emotion like that in “My Heart is in Memphis” or the blaring strum of “Longing for the Northern Wind.”
You can tell that Ted Hajnasiewicz knows of what he speaks in these songs; he never comes off disingenuous in the transmission of the lyrics in numbers like “Stars and the Sea” and “I Give Myself.” When he’s serenading us in the dirge of “This Town is Not for Me,” it becomes quite clear that he’s lived the story he’s spinning for us right now. The disconnection with normalcy, the yearning for some sort of acceptance, the torture of alienation – he somehow manages to take these inexpressible emotions and turn them into touching melodies that linger in our hearts long after the music ceases to play.
The instrumentation that we hear in this album is without a doubt just as evocative as the lyrics are, echoing their tonality no matter where they sit on the spectrum of moodiness. Where we start off in the medley of “This Town is Not for Me,” “If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow” and “Wedding Coat” isn’t as close to where we finish in “You Will Find Him on a Mercy Seat” and “Burning Bridges” as it may appear on the surface. This record is a tour de force both musically and emotionally, and I found that its pastoral observations become more empowering (and, in places, cratering) with each and every uninterrupted listen.
This Is What I Do is an anthological watershed compilation of Ted Hajnasiewicz’s smartest and most focused work, and it speaks volumes about the organic skillset that he possesses. Though he’s not a household name by any stretch of your imagination, Hajnasiewicz has a haunting, memorable vocal timbre that is pretty hard to forget once you’ve heard it at its full capacity, which is packaged and delivered to us here with a flawless execution and production value fit for the top of the pop music hierarchy. Not typical on any level, This Is What I Do succeeds at leaving the sort of impression that only iconic LPs are capable of producing.