Singer/songwriter Ted Hajnasiewicz blends country twang, rock n’ roll volume and folk simplicity in his new album This Is What I Do, an 11 song collection of his most popular songs to date. Spanning years of songwriting, This Is What I Do packs a robust, well-rounded punch that is tempered by the smooth vocals of Hajnasiewicz and the contemplative lyrics they dispense in such classics as “Wedding Coat,” “My Heart is in Memphis,” “If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow” and “Burning Bridges.” In these songs he takes us on a journey into his heart and through all of the treachery that has forged its scars, but the content is anything but self-righteous or non-relatable. This is Hajnasiewicz’ finest balladry and it dutifully represents the high caliber songwriter that he really is.
Over the course of 11 tracks, Hajnasiewicz’ mood ranges from confessional and introspective (“Longing for the Northern Wind,” “You Will Find Him on a Mercy Seat,” “Go Easy on Me,” “This Town is Not for Me”) to reverent and surreal (“Wedding Coat,” “Stars and the Sea,” “Oh! Sweet Love”), but the material doesn’t feel fragmented or thrown together. Though these songs were originally released on different albums, they flow incredibly well as a cohesive piece here, with “If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow” rising right out of the ashes of “This Town is Not for Me” and providing an emotional bridge to enter “Wedding Coat.” As a complete album, This Is What I Do demonstrates the conceptualism of Hajnasiewicz’s work, and moreover his total rejection of formulaic predictability.
There’s an insular feel to the master mix of these songs, to the point where I would even go as far as to call it suffocating in the versatile guitar-driven trio of “Longing for the Northern Wind,” “Oh! Sweet Love” and the brittle “Go Easy on Me.” The strings are utterly divine in these tracks, reaching through our speakers and striking us with their sharp ends and effortless swagger. Hajnasiewicz’s voice is delicately woven in between the grooves, creating this supple contrast that is intoxicating to say the least. You can tell he spent a lot of time poring over the smallest details in the production of this album; even though I’ve heard these songs before, I don’t think they’ve ever been quite as radiant or full of vitality.
Whether you’re riding high in life at the moment or rolling lower than ever and in need of a friend, Ted Hajnasiewicz has got a song that you’re bound to relate to in This Is What I Do. Personally I think that this compressed collection of songs portrays Hajnasiewicz better than any of his previous work has; it’s all-encompassing of his broad musical palate, doesn’t exaggerate his buzzworthy aesthetic and puts the emphasis squarely on the relationship between his words and the stunning music that accompanies them. This Is What I Do is as engaging a singer/songwriter record that you’re likely to find in 2019, and it’s my opinion that you’d be hard pressed to hear anything quite like it in this year or any other.