As founder and co-owner of Maurice the Fish Records in Tacoma, Raymond Hayden spends the large majority of his time and energy helping other musicians and singer/songwriters achieve their dreams. Now it’s Hayden’s turn for the spotlight, as he has released a new, and excellent, EP called “Broken.” Featuring six tracks, “Broken” is Hayden’s third release (his others are solo CDs “A Doorway Through Your Tears” and “September Sky”). All the songs are Hayden’s original compositions except one – his cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.” Produced by Chris Tussing, who also plays drums and percussion on the EP, the players include some of the Northwest’s finest musicians: Hayden on piano and vocals, Leah Tussing on backing vocals, Jim Tussing on bass and keys, Scott Malone on guitars, Paul Sawtelle on saxophone and Emily Ann Peterson on cello. Hayden said each musician contributed much to each song on the EP to create the whole, making for a real group effort. Maybe this is some of why “Broken” sounds like it was a charmed project from the start, with Hayden providing the inspiration for all the musicians to shine. Like so many of the artists involved with Maurice the Fish, Hayden bares his heart and soul through music. In both his writing and singing on “Broken,” he lets listeners in to know of his personal struggles in the hopes that universal truths will be revealed and thus help those who hear his music to know they are not alone in dealing with life’s downs. This is all part of a healing process for Hayden and, by extension, those who he hopes will hear what he has to say about his journey from being spiritually and emotionally broken to attaining healing. “There’s a message in this album I want to share with people because we all go through trials and tribulations,” Hayden said, starting with the EP’s title. “The reason I went with ‘Broken’ is because this album is basically about realizing that it’s okay to be broken. Fixing it is the important stuff.” About five years ago Hayden was experiencing a crisis in his life that left him feeling broken. “There was a lot of pain, but after two or three years I thought I had gotten over it all,” he said. Beneath the surface, though, the stress from the situation continued to gnaw at him in ways he could shirk no longer. “My life was a bunch of puzzle pieces all over the place,” as he described it. Then, he fell in love with someone he clicked with deeply, and a spark of change was ignited inside of him – the new relationship brought out some of the things that hadn’t healed inside of him yet. When someone loves us enough to care, they fix us,” Hayden said. “This is how the song ‘Broken’ came about.” Hayden plays piano beautifully on this song, and his voice is strong and clear as he sings, “It never occurred to me that my problems resided within…I was broken until I found you.” Peterson’s cello brings in a special layer of emotion to the music, and Malone striking extended chords on guitar adds body and richness to the sound. Not all of the songs on the album are about being broken, but they relate to it.
Opening with the popping, crackling sounds of a needle on a vinyl record, the EP is meant to be heard from start to finish. The order the songs shows this to be true. The EP opens with Hayden seeming to remind himself (and listeners) to not get overwhelmed with anger and grief, but rather to “Breathe.” Accompanied by only an acoustic guitar, Hayden’s version of this classic gives pause to hear the words anew, and makes for an interesting beginning to the inner journey of healing the artist tells of through the rest of his songs. By the EP’s end, ‘I Feel Tonight,” Hayden comes full circle back to sing of his passion for the source of his joy and sense of place in the world – music. Interestingly, this is the most rockin’ and upbeat songs among the collection, which has the power to leave listeners with a sense of hope for the future and perhaps the strength to find their own life’s purpose in the things or people they love the most. To celebrate the release of “Broken,” Hayden is throwing a free listening party for his friends, fans and anyone who wants to attend. It will be held on Jan. 16 at Smoky Joe’s Cigar Lounge (inside BJ’s Bingo in Fife) at 4411 Pacific Hwy. E. in Fife, 6-9 p.m. Hayden and the band will hold a question-and-answer session, and copies of “Broken” and other merchandise will be for sale. Everyone who attends the listening party will receive a free single that Hayden recorded just for this event. “I’m not going to say which song it is,” Hayden said, “but it’s one the people always ask to hear so I’m going to redo it with Leah (Tussing) duet style.” Then on Feb. 22, Hayden joins headliners Champagne Sunday at the Hard Rock Café in Seattle for a very special performance with guitar master and fan favorite Rafael Tranquilino. Purchase “Broken” on iTunes and http://www.CDBaby.com.
“…have you ever been BROKEN?
…then out of nowhere, someone comes along
and fixes you?
…and when you look back, you never realized
you were BROKEN.
…this EP is inspired by that journey…
…and it continues…
-- Raymond Hayden