Up front, breathy vocals floating over detailed productions and lyrics that come off as deeply personal, whether about family, friends, relationships long gone or the holy spirit. Ted Hajnasiewicz’ latest effort, This Is What I Do, is a compilation and a good taster for anyone unfamiliar with him. As a compilation, it’s remarkably consistent across the board production wise, and could pass as an album of new material for the uninitiated. Hajnasiewicz leans on the guitar as his primary accompaniment, building around that classic singer/songwriter sound with lush arrangements that give off a distinctive country vibe. “Longing For The Northern Wind” is a good example, with its solemn harmonica lines, twangy guitar leads and slide guitar chords that imbue his tunes with a woozy, lovesick motion.
A defining lyrical trait of Hajnasiewicz is religious salvation. “Oh! Sweet Love” features a full throated and passionate delivery of “by his wounds we are healed / his mercy is revealed” over a simple arrangement of burning electric guitars and church organ solos.
The bare bones framing achieves its intention of pushing total focus on the lyrical message. When a song on this album is not about struggle, it is likely about God; and this sequencing helps elevate This Is What I Do from simply a compilation project to a more conceptual work. When Hajnasiewicz sings “sometimes I find myself in the company of thieves and I forget just who I am and all you’ve done for me” on the track “Go Easy On Me.” I feel his earnestness for salvation, having traveled by his side down the twisting road of his flaws.
Ultimately, absent his religious message, Hajnasiewicz’s clear aim with This Is What I Do is found in the compilation’s title. As a singer/songwriter dedicated to the craft above all, Hajnasiewicz is an artist in search of personal perfection and a classic song. Opening cut “This Town Is Not For Me” is the lonesome tale of an aging balladeer being forgotten in his own hometown. Hajnasiewicz, feeling like “just another face… so out of place,” evokes the contradiction of blending in to your surroundings so thoroughly you disappear. It’s a beautiful song, stylistically a country ballad that uses a refined and minimal arrangement to give the listener an intended emotion and nothing more; the sure sign of a developed record producer. “This Town Is Not For Me” also serves as the most recently completed song on this compilation, proving that through trial and tribulation, Hajnasiewicz’s seed of inspiration is continuing to grow.
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