Canadian songwriter Hayden Desser first appeared with his refreshingly folk-y take on grunge music in 1996, both with the release of his debut album Everything I Long For and with original music for Steve Buscemi’s directorial debut Trees Lounge—a story told with both the gentleness of an acoustic guitar and the rough edges of the genre marked by raspy vocals and angsty electric guitar. Over a quarter of a decade later, the songwriter has sanded down those edges and leaned into a certain middle ground, with the songs on Are We Good—his first album since 2015’s Hey Love—enlisting artists like Feist and The National for a mature take on indie rock that matches both collaborating artists’ output, as well as recent solo material from The Walkmen’s Walter Martin.
Ahead of that album’s release day tomorrow, Hayden is sharing one last single from the record in the form of the title track, which evolved over time from its placesetter “mumbled lyrics” into the piano-led, fleshed-out meditation on relationships its final form has taken on. “There were many times throughout the last six years where I found the title’s query floating around in my head,” the songwriter shares. “Whether asking about one’s relationship with another or the nature of human beings in general, these last few years have definitely begged the question.”
It was The National’s Matt Berninger who helped usher the track to completion, filling in the blanks on the lyrical blueprint Hayden sent him for input. “Perhaps it was the weight of this refrain that persuaded me to send the song to Matt to see if he could help make sense of it. When he sent it back fully realized a few days later, I was reminded once again why I admire him so much.”
The track arrives with a video that subscribes to Hayden’s DIY work ethic, self-recorded as it was in his attic and documenting him playing each instrument on the track—check it out below. You can also catch him on tour this May with a brief string of dates alongside Ada Lea. Tickets are available here.