John Hayes 'Midnight Cabaret'

In this new CD, Hayes’ music leans more toward a theatrical style, rather than in previous directions he defines as contemporary acoustic or traditional country.



You might assume that the five people on the album cover perform together, but the focus in Midnight Cabaret is actually on one man, whose interesting, distinctive and colorful songs are sung, separately, by four other people. Here are 12 songs by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outdoors editor, John Hayes. He used to write about theater and music for Pittsburgh publications, so you can understand why Hayes, who lives near Elizabeth, Pa., has created and performed his own material.

He’s done so at multiple club dates and on six of his own CDs.

In this new CD, Hayes’ music leans more toward a theatrical style, rather than in previous directions he defines as contemporary acoustic or traditional country. He’s discovered cabaret songs while writing about theater, noticing, he says “solid writing in stories that stand on their own.” The lyrics, then, in these appealingly gentle and reflective
numbers rarely focus on happy thoughts; most are about lost love or love gone bad.

Greenfield theater professional Christine Laitta is among the artists who sing here, and her tremolo, a barely noticeable wavering of pitch, perfectly accentuates the chill that permeates “Cold Comfort of Science,” a bluesy tune. It’s akin to “Torch Song,” where Wilkinsburg’s Gail Novak’s fragile sultriness sounds just right, especially as supported by Point Breeze’s Jeremy Fisher’s eloquent guitar. You’ll find more to impress you in other tracks, some spotlighting singer Daphne Alderson and her husband, guitarist John Marcinizyn.

Hayes says he thinks of songwriting more as communication than entertainment. You will find that the lyrics will speak to you but so will the music.

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