Ever since his debut album, "Flowers and Liquor," came out in 2002, Hayes Carll has been hailed as the spiritual heir to Texas songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. What they all have in common is the ability to move from heartfelt cry-in-your-beer ballads to humorous story-songs like Carll's "She Left Me for Jesus."
Yet just as his career seemed poised to take off following his 2011 album, "KMAG YOYO," Carll became surprisingly quiet.
"I'm living, performing writing, and figuring," he said. "Career wise I'm definitely due for a new record. It has just taken me awhile to find what it is I want to say and how I want to say it."
Carll is planning to record a new album later this year and says he isn't struggling to write songs; it just takes time to create the right collection of songs that fit together. At the same time, he has found himself in a transitional period as a writer, happy to be compared to his heroes but also wanting to forge his own identity.
"I think I'm a little less concerned with the reaction from the listener and more interested in creating something singular," Carll said about his current style of songwriting. "I probably borrow less musically than I used to. I'm not reinventing the wheel by any means, but my Chuck Berry/Willie Nelson/Bob Dylan influences aren't quite as obvious."
When he is ready to resurface, Carll may find some new fans who discovered him thanks to Lee Ann Womack's widely praised cover of his song "Chances Are" on her most recent album, "The Way I'm Livin'."
"It was an honor to have a vocalist of her caliber sing something I had written," said Carll. "It's always interesting to hear someone interpret one of your songs because it gives you the chance to remove yourself from any ownership of the song and just appreciate it for what it is, which in this case is a pretty great country song, if I do say so myself."
If you go:
Hayes Carll is at Mercury Lounge on Wednesday and July 22 at 9 p.m., 217 E. Houston St., 6:30 p.m., $20.
He is at Rough Trade on July 15, 64 N. Ninth St. at 9 p.m., $20