Album Review: Rodney Hayden – Atascosa Sand

Atascosa Sand album coverIf there’s one word to describe Rodney Hayden’s new album, it’s ‘rooted.’ Rooted in the old home place, as suggested by the family history of the title track and the fondly-recalled detail of “Goodbye to My Hometown” (reprised from 2003’s Living the Good Life). Rooted in rodeo imagery, which doubles as a kind of stand-in for the rambling musical life – the cowboy singer’s restless pursuit of song being one of the few things capable of tempting him away from home. When Hayden sings “It might seem like I’m chasing elusive dreams/But I bet, you’ll see me in Vegas,” the literal referent is the National Finals Rodeo – but the sentiment is the same as if he were aspiring to replace Garth at The Wynn. Rooted in fiddle, steel, and acoustic guitar, daring to sound unabashedly country in an age when it’s easy to mistake forsaking roots for a fast track to success. Encouragingly, Hayden’s principled stand on behalf of who he is and what he loves is making friends and admirers of heroes. It’s not every independent Texas album that includes a co-write with George Strait (“Good Horses Are Hard to Come By”) and a classic country duet with Kelly Willis (“I Drink to Remember”). With everything else going for it, the occasional foray into rodeo rock like “Buckaroo Man” is easily forgiven. A decade into his career, Hayden remains one of young country’s most imposing talents.

Recommended if you like: George Strait, Chris LeDoux

Grade (Pass/Fail only): PASS

Preview or purchase Atascosa Sand at Amazon

New posts, by email, whenever we’ve got ’em.


  1. says

    Thanks for the great review! I really appreciate it. I’m in agreement with you on Buckaroo Man……..I love the song and am really proud of what it has done for this album – but I had to make it a lot more “rock” than normal because I knew it was going to be played at Fenway Park in Boston. It went over really well at Fenway – but I probably should have cut a different version for the album that was less electric. Either way though – I love the song and will release a stripped down version of it in a few months………I’m glad you like the album and just wanted to say thanks for the review and support. I have no record label, publicist or radio promoter working the record so word of mouth and reviews like this is what is driving the whole thing. I’m excited about the great feedback we’ve had – thanks again for being a part of it. As you know Ive been a big fan of your website for a while……..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *