Label: Big Scary Monsters Release date: 09/08/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon As Toby Hayes left a sweaty, heaving Underworld a couple of years back - signing off old band Meet Me in St Lois in style, you have to wonder if the twisting post rock that thrust him into Kerrang was really what he wanted to do all along. In retrospect - to keenly embraced was the uber-low key, lo-fi aesthetic of solo project Shoes and Socks Off that there was no way it could be a mere folly. See over the previous 18 months or so Hayes seems to have seriously relished quietly crafting a small arsenal of low key acoustic vignettes; released in tiny quantities, not sent to press and acting as something of a cool little secret for us in the know to enjoy. Almost as though he is enjoying a new found sense of ease within his acoustic confines though, Hayes’ new album Robin Hood Waiter Champion Have Not is a huge leap forward for the songwriter not just musically but in terms of the scale of the project. No longer confined to tiny handmade runs of CDs and scattered shows, Hayes is taking a full run up at this release with a staggeringly lengthy tour upcoming and a full run at press to hopefully propel these charming acoustic songs to the kinds of numbers that need to hear them. Musically RHWCHN picks up where most of the SASO back catalogue has left off- the spidery, thrumming acoustic guitar in place – front and centre – topped with that cracked world weary drawl but this time out there’s a greater sense of occasion with flourishes of instrumentation sprinkled across the tracks; some *gasp* drums, the odd flicker of a piano here and there, lending colour between the stark black and white lines - its subtle sure, it still needs a couple of listens to be able to truly immerse yourself in the bluesy sepia tinged murk but like For Emma Forever Ago or even Pink Moon repeated listens will reveal a depth that cant help but swallow you whole. It would be unfair to single out highlights as really this album needs to be consumed as a whole to fully enjoy it – but consume it I urge you to do – this is an album that cements Hayes’ reputation as one of the most underrated songwriters in the country – time for the secret to get out. Photobucket