Tyler Haag is a singer/songwriter from Minneapolis, MN. Eight years since his last release and four years since his last drink, Haag is now better than ever, returning with his latest EP Aim True. A departure from his twenties which were spent playing basement shows in punk bands and working in record stores, Haag moves his sound to simpler times with an acoustic and country-based vibe. Filled with brutally honest and candid lyrics, Haag brings his warm sound to audiences everywhere. After nearly a decade, Haag is back, giving audiences his reimaginings of Americana, rock and alt country packed with themes of “heartbreak, struggles with mental health and relationships.” Written and recorded in four months during the pandemic, you can feel the immediacy of the album throughout.
Aim True gets started with “The Best Breaks,” which starts off with some acoustic guitar and what sounds like the steel lap guitar. The sound felt very much in the vein of country and Americana. As Haag sings his heart out in this warm acoustic track, the strumming on the guitar slowly grows in mode. The trumpet adds another arresting layer to the acoustic vibes. Guitar and harmonica weaves together to give a very dynamic sound on “LPB.” Traces of the fiddle also make an appearance here. The big, soaring vocals feel very emotionally powered. I loved his overall performance on this song. Some beats set the pace on “Singing Baton Rouge” as the bluesy twang of the harmonica settles in the groove. This felt like an alternative/emo track with a country twist. I was touched by the vocal delivery. At moments this reminded me of Plain White T’s. More acoustic guitar highlights the sound on “Coffee Cold.” This is a simply rendered track with just guitar accompanying the vocals. This song felt very emo-inspired, packed with many flavorful instances. The quiet melody on display felt like a softer side to the artist.
Off to a sauntering groove, the drums and harmonica comes in with a gritty, bluesy pulse on “Broadway At Night.” As the emo and punk-inspired vocals come in, there is no doubt of the country influences. On “Untitled Song,” more driven guitars make up the warm sound here. The emo vocals really add a deeper emotionally powered vibe to this song. Bouncy rhythms incorporate an Americana, country-bent appeal. On “Watch Documentaries” more acoustic guitar makes an appearance here. The tone just grows and grows in sound. Haag’s spirited country-bent vocals continue to serenade us on this dynamic ballad. Interwoven into the song are some female vocals that also includes a touch of drama to the sounds. More striking chord progressions on guitar adds a moody yet amped vibe to the start of “Sell My Coat, I’m Off To Heaven.” What sounds like an organ adds on some unique instrumentation. The combined vocal harmonies give off an energized layer to this track. The familiar country-bent sounds also make its way on this song. This felt like a great way to close the album.
A home recording, there is no doubt that this EP compels with its Americana, country and acoustic sounds. What also immediately hits you are Haag’s singer/songwriter sensibilities that makes this recording feel intrinsic to the coffee shop ambiance and open mic vibes that often tags along whenever anything “singer/songwriter” comes up. But this by all means doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can say that this just falls underneath a certain category of rock or acoustic rock. Mainly featuring guitars and vocals, the glaringly simplicity of this album allows bigger room for emotional resonance that then really heightens the drama and impactfulness to each composition. As Haag’s goal is to ‘aim true’ like his album moniker so vocally voices, I think this album is able to achieve just that as you can’t get anything more honest and homegrown than this. I look forward to seeing what’s next for this artist.
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