Do you ever find yourself with a complete disconnect between your ears and your eyes? Try watching Hayley Reardon’s video for her latest single, “Numb and Blue.” The lyrics and that beautiful voice convey so much maturity and experience, but they’re coming from the mouth of a 17-year-old girl with a baby face. It can be hard to wrap your head around, but Hayley Reardon is indeed a teenage folk musician/singer/songwriter who is already releasing her second album, Wayfindings. This Massachussetts native was inspired by Taylor Swift when she was 11 years old and began writing several songs a day. These days, her post-break up songs have far more maturity than Swift’s ex-bashing singles.
The lyrics are relatable and well put and, as said before, grown-up. “Numb and Blue” is a good example; when she describes her fingers as being numb and blue, it’s “from trying to hold on to you,” not a bruise as I had initially expected. It’s these unexpected ideas and clever wordings that help Reardon to sound wise beyond her years. She’s got a break-up song, but it’s nothing like you’d hear from Taylor Swift: the closest she comes to bashing a soon-to-be ex is to point out that he pretends to like Bob Dylan. That struck me because I feel that most young ‘ins would still be pretending to like the iconic musicians they feel they’re supposed to whether they actually like the music or not, showing that Reardon is on a whole different maturity level than I was at 17. On “Make Some Good,” Reardon makes it clear that she understands more about relationships than some people 10 years her senior. When she sings “It’s been a while, I owe you something honest, but it’s always more for me than for you,” you know that she’s got the whole guilt and healing thing down.
Almost all of the songs have a similar sound; most open with an acoustic guitar and bongo drums, eventually adding strings in the background but allowing Reardon’s voice to take precedence. And that it does: her voice can have some grit when she lowers it to a near whisper on “Make Some Good,” but it can also hit these sweet high notes and make it sound easy. “Say What You Mean” is unlike the other tracks in that it mixes the guitar loud enough to compete with the vocals. “Folded Map” adds a few watery notes from an electric piano, which takes away from the winning formula that was working on the other, pared-down songs. Then there’s the black sheep: “Fishin’ Blues” is packed with instruments like bells, an extra guitar, and drums that provide a steady beat (instead of the infrequent bongo percussion of the other songs.) It’s faster than the other songs and has a country sound. Sure enough, it’s the only song on the album not written by Reardon; it’s a Taj Mahal cover. She makes it her own; though it’s different from the rest of the album, it has many elements that make it cohesive.
Though the album is called “Wayfindings,” Reardon has found her musical way. It’s a sweet folk album with gorgeous vocals that is worth a listen. Be sure to watch for her on the folk scene, with this kind of talent at 17, there are bound to be more great albums to come.