To Sydney audiences, Bernie Hayes is a local hero, cause celebre, a trusted translator of human experience. He is the master of the domestic miniature that says everything that need be said about who we are, why, and how we succeed and fail, who we love and why. With an acoustic guitar and a seductive voice that can whisper confidentially or soar to emotional precipices, and the judicious use of a supple rhythm section, Bernie Hayes is here to break your heart.
If he’s a local hero, a name shared between inner-westies with a knowing nod or sigh, his fourth album (his first in eight years!) Slow Fix reaffirms his stature as a treasure of Australian songwriting, in the same league as Paul Kelly or his mate, Perry Keyes. His songs provide an irresistible combination of contemporary perspectives with Brill Building classicism (Carole King, Laura Nyro) and the height of ’70s singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and John Martyn. It’s doubtful you will think of any of these artists when you hear this record though – Brendan Gallagher’s production is immediate and transparent, allowing the illusion of an old friend sharing stories over a few brews.
Bernie keeps busy, playing solo shows and occasionally with a trio or quartet doing his own stuff, but also with Dead Marines alongside Gallagher and Front End Loader’s Bow Campbell, and as bassist for Dog Trumpet with the brothers O’Doherty/Mombassa.
Meanwhile he writes these top shelf songs and every now and then makes a record of them – Every Tuesday Sometimes Sunday (1999), Domestic Departures (2003), Homebody (2007) and now Slow Fix. He doesn’t seem to have an ambitious bone in his body, beyond the need to get these songs out to people who might get something from them. So it’s up to us, and you, whoever you are reading this, to spread the word.
“Bernie Hayes’ coffee au lait voice [is] the balm to all troubles in its mid register and a heart-kicker in its upper reaches.” Bernard Zuel, Sydney Morning Herald.
“These are heartfelt songs that engage instantly and enchant repeatedly. The voice is at once powerful and plaintive, the playing at times arresting…” Peter Lalor, The Australian
“A man who embodies the term ‘local stalwart,’ the first album in eight years from Sydney’s Bernie Hayes showcases just what the rest of the country is missing due to the fact he rarely travels beyond home with his intimate live sets. There are no studio tricks on Slow Fix, just effortlessly gorgeous songs full of heart.” 2SER, SERvin’ Up New Music.