Album Premiere: Duff Thompson’s ‘Haywire’ Is an Enchanting American Folk Debut

Haywire - Duff Thompson
Haywire - Duff Thompson
An effortlessly enchanting, organic, and honest listen, singer/songwriter Duff Thompson’s debut album ‘Haywire’ is an exciting introduction to a stirring new voice in American folk.
for fans of Bob Dylan, Lord Huron, Big Thief
Stream: ‘Haywire’ – Duff Thompson
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New Orleans singer/songwriter Duff Thompson put a little bit of everything into his debut album, and the resulting record is incredibly true to its name: An effortlessly enchanting, organic, and honest listen, Haywire is an exciting introduction to a stirring new voice in American folk.

Haywire - Duff Thompson
Haywire – Duff Thompson
It’s not quite heaven but you’ve come here for the view
Spend all your time chasing things that never move
You don’t know yesterday until it’s been so long
And you don’t know what leaving
really means until you’re finally up and gone
– “Haywire,” Duff Thompson

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Haywire, Duff Thompson’s debut album (out December 11, 2020 via Mashed Potato Records). A longtime member of New Orleans’ folk music scene, Thompson is an enthralling singer and hearty lyricist with a timeless folk sound. Listening to his material is like a journey through decades past: We hear sparks of influences from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s in largely lo-fi recordings full of emotion and verve. Fans of everyone from Bob Dylan to Lord Huron or Big Thief will find something to love in Haywire‘s eclectic tapestry.

“I think of the album as more of a collection of songs that I’ve recorded over the past three years in New Orleans rather than a singular statement,” Thompson tells Atwood Magazine. “In between sessions where I was recording other people, I would squeeze in a few days here and there to work on my own project without any explicit intention. It was also recorded in five different locations. I was moving around a lot and I would set up shop in the living room of wherever I was living.”

Set myself on fire
Don’t you like the way I love you babe?
Call me in the morning and I’m on my way
But have I lost my way?
I’m kickin’ the same old stone again
Hang me on a wire ’til I don’t know when
But let me lay one night
Forget about tomorrow ’til it comes I do
Yesterday’s coming and it don’t like you
Am I dreaming?
Don’t you like the way I love you babe?
Sleight of hand
I’ve worked so hard to defend my claim
And there ain’t nothin’ that’ll sting the same
Against my will
I’m kickin’ the same old stone again
Baby, let me love you ’til I don’t know when
– “Sleight of Hand,” Duff Thompson

Rugged yet refined, Haywire offers intimate reflections on life through a vulnerable lens.

Thompson makes no pretense, coming at relationships and identity, time and place with earnest humility. He embraces a wide swathe of content both sonically and thematically – so while the folk designation fits, it by no means limits him in any way, shape or form: Rather, it’s a platform off of which he shines in all directions.

Duff Thompson © Steph Green
Duff Thompson © Steph Green

“I try not to be pigeon-holed into one category or genre, and I feel like it came out sounding pretty eclectic yet cohesive,” Thompson reflects. “You can hear a ballad with strings or a more rocking number, but it always sounds like you’re listening to the same guy.”

He continues, “I can’t say I ever really had a solid vision for it because I never knew if I was trying to record a single, an EP, or an album. Over the three year span, so many different people were involved and my interest in certain kinds of songs would also fluctuate. There’s a certain kind of aesthetic I usually shoot for though whether I’m recording myself or other people. The main focus is always the person singing you the song and the band kind of sounds like a garage band trying to play folk music or a folk band trying to play rock music. This is all then splashed with tape delay or reverb for a dreamy quality.”

Thompson opens the record with “Sleight of Hand,” a soulful and swampy folk tune that sets a solid tone for the overall record to come. Following tracks – like the gritty “You’re Pretty Good” and beautifully lilting “Haywire” – begin to round out his multifaceted artistry, showcasing highs and lows, electric and acoustic environments that, though varied, all seem to resonate with a certain depth of character and intent.

At times, Haywire feels like its own fly on the wall: One gets the sense like we’re secretly listening in on Thompson’s performance, rather than having the music performed to or for us. Such a spectacle makes this record feel all the more special, adding a bit of mystique to the artist whose painted face – like a mask, or a clown – dons his own debut’s cover.

I don’t care about old lovers
I’ll just have you as you are right now
I don’t care about lovers
I’ll have you as you are
Don’t give a damn what your neighbor said
I’ll just have you as you are right now
I don’t care about what he said
I’ll have you as you are
– “You’re Pretty Good,” Duff Thompson

It’s clear, however, that these songs are here, now, for our listening pleasure. Thompson’s haunting reflections and touching sentiments stir up something deep inside; think of them as a gift, do with them what you will. “I hope that people hear something in it that they haven’t heard expressed or articulated before,” the artist shares. “I also hope that people appreciate the songwriting, think the production is neat and that it sparks their imagination in some kind of way.”

Haywire is brand new, yet it feels as old as time. A collection of heartfelt and clever songwriting that evokes thought, feeling, and just a dash of nostalgia, it’s an impressive best step forward from an artist we can’t wait to hear more from in the years to come. Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Duff Thompson’s Haywire with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his debut album!

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Stream: ‘Haywire’ – Duff Thompson
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:: Inside Haywire ::

Haywire - Duff Thompson

— —

Sleight of Hand

This one was kind of a Goldilocks type scenario. I recorded one version that was too upbeat and sounded too much like the Travelling Wilburys. This was followed by one version that was too laid-back and folky. The final version is an attempt to find that happy medium to sound just right. I think it does. It’s about trying to make something work that you know won’t, and flip-flopping in a willy-nilly state of utter confusion.

You’re Pretty Good

This is a simple song with simple lyrics. Sometimes when trying to express a single feeling or idea, it’s more effective to dumb the lyrics down and try to get straight to the point. The lyrics aren’t exactly literal but the idea is that sometimes, for better or worse, it feels like only the present matters.


Without giving too much away, this is a song about how time changes any romanticized ideas you have about a time, place, or people you wanted to know. It’s not meant to be a harsh criticism. But when trying to express a certain feeling, sometimes you run out of time to talk about the other side of it before the song ends.

Wild Eyes

Probably the silliest lyrics on the album. It’s a pretty old song and if I recall, I wrote it in about five minutes. I guess in its own way, it’s a sort of outsider-type song and about feeling lucky to know a couple other weirdos. I might have just made that up right now.

Rock and Roll…

…will break your heart. I think anyone who’s spent years prioritizing playing music over everything else can relate to that sentiment one way or another. Not that it would have been possible for me to do anything else, but trying to look at it objectively or trying to imagine how people who know me might perceive what I’m doing, it’s just not a very functional way to live as an adult unless you’re making a bunch of money.

Feel What You Want

I think this is the last song I wrote that made it onto the album. It’s mostly about living in an age where everyone is constantly being reminded of everything that’s shitty and how everyone is obsessed with trying to force their idea of utopia on you. Sometimes you have to pay more attention to your own little world that you’ve made for yourself and block out the rest.

Sweet Darlin’

Another old song. For a while I was obsessed with trying to write the ultimate romantic song. There were several attempts and by no means do I feel that I achieved my goal but this is the closest that I got.

Footloose and Fancy Free

I’m no mathematician, but from what I understand, the deeper you dive into the crazy world of mathematics, the more creative and philosophical it gets. I read that Einstein said his journey into mathematics began when he was a little boy and he wondered what it would be like to ride a beam of light as it travelled through the universe. Quantum Theory really blew my mind when I learned about it (and still does constantly) and I was thinking about the idea of your reality being the one you accept or think is possible. I tried to merge these ideas with a standard love theme.

The Other Side

I don’t know how I arrived on this subject matter but I somehow did. The idea is pretty laid out in the last verse as it tells a parent to appreciate the innocence of a child’s life and their role in it because ultimately they have little control of what becomes of their son or daughter.

The Long Haul

And finally we arrive at the last song. It’s simply about wanting to have fun and not take anything too seriously. Not that I try to be Mr. Party Man, but sometimes it’s the only thing that makes sense to do.

— — — —

Haywire - Duff Thompson

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