Hayden Pedigo is a rather fascinating figure within American folklore. The singer, from Amarillo, Texas, was born into an ultra-religious family who homeschooled him. Pedigo’s father worked as a truck driver. At age 25, he ran for his city council, garnering national notoriety. His bid for the position, driven by youthful hope, became the subject of the documentary Kid Candidate, which followed Pedigo on his political journey.
If his history is indicative of anything, perhaps performance is integral to who Pedigo is as a person. Maybe it’s his way of releasing frustration. Whatever the case, with the release of his latest album, Letting Go, everyone should hope that Pedigo never ceases to perform.
Pedigo wastes no time immersing the listener into the instrumental world of Letting Go. The album, birthed and developed on his porch after leaving his hometown for elsewhere during the pandemic, begins with “Carthage,” instantly transporting the audience onto the guitarist’s porch with him. There’s something vast about the way Pedigo strums the guitar. The chords perfectly mimic the vastness of Pedigo’s conflicted soul and the Texas landscape he inhabits. Yet, there’s a certain intimacy heard within the music. It feels less like a man looking out into the big world, but a man looking at himself who looks out into the big world. The music feels specific.
As the 7-track album pushes forward, Pedigo lulls the listener in with his guitar and his sparing use of natural sounds. His sonic hypnosis invites the audience to do their own form of letting go and submit themselves to the music.
The album reaches the midway point with the track “Rained Like Hell,” a simultaneously soothing, invigorating and haunting number. While the Texan has already incorporated bird and nature noises into the album, this is the first time a human voice makes an appearance in the form of some soft mumbles in an otherwise wordless album. The effect results in a quiet loudness. Being the few words found in the piece, attention is immediately captured, heightening and extending interest in the album. And although the words are hard to make out, their delivery, how the words are emoted, turns them into another (masterfully played) instrument.
“Rained Like Hell” is followed by the album’s title song “Letting Go.” The song is immediately refreshing. It truly feels like a burden shared between artist and listener has been removed between the few seconds it takes for the previous track to end and “Letting Go” to begin. It feels post-cathartic, capturing the moments immediately after an intense display of emotion. The blurriness from tears or anger has lifted and new feelings emerge.
The last two songs, “Something Absolute” and “I Wasn’t Dreaming” follow in “Letting Go’s” footstep, continuing this part of the album’s light demeanor. “I Wasn’t Dreaming” serves as an exceptional finisher, ending the album on a hopeful and settled note.
Overall, Letting Go is nothing short of a masterpiece. What makes the piece of art so fascinating is Pedigo’s intimacy. The 27-year-old became a known name for a spoof video and an underdog endeavor for city council. What this album proves is that there’s an incredible depth beneath any form of spectacle that Pedigo displays. This album demonstrates earnestness and honesty, two things sorely lacking in American politics. American politicians could take a note from the young man. Instead of talking the talk, take the Pedigo approach: Save the words, focus on the impact.
Frankly, this review seems a little unnecessary. Pedigo and his guitar manage to express his entire internal world without words, yet there aren’t enough words to describe the artistic triumph that is Letting Go.
- “Rained Like Hell”
- “Letting Go”
Listen to Letting Go on Spotify.
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