When you talk about Hayley Thompson-King—soulful country vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, and creator of the Boston-based garage, girl group Banditas— it's important to know 2 things: One, that she was raised on a horse ranch in Florida; and two, that she was classically trained in Opera at New England Conservatory of Music. If Hayley, on occasion, arrives to a show dressed up like a cowgirl, know that she comes by it honestly. If Hayley covers a 19th century German art song, know that she comes by it honestly.
Hayley's songwriting lays open all of the musical influences that are closest to her heart, while remaining utterly fresh, modern, and ballsy. And hearing her sing live is a total treat. She moves fluidly from punky garage breakdowns to 60s girl pop, cult-classic country and western to gospel-infused ballads about love. Her melodic low register lends pristine clarity to stories within each of her songs, and she is not shy to let loose her voice like a galloping bronco. Her capability as a songwriter is equally matched by her ear for arrangements. The song "Teratoma"— that's right, likening an old, nasty love needing to be cut out of her to a teratoma pregnancy— acutely displays that duality, with the looping metaphor echoed by a looping refrain on her guitar. Hayley is bold and sight to behold.
Stumbling upon the music of Hayley Thompson-King feels like being privy to the life and times of an undiscovered Grand Ole Opry star. You could almost imagine that she just hopped down from a bus with a suitcase in her hand and her guitar on her back. You have the feeling you want to be her friend, and help her get to where she needs to go, because in return she'll lend you some superb items from her record collection. She's a girl's girl, a musician's musician, and, if her songs are any indication, a heartbreaker. Take her at her word, folks, the music she's giving is you is everything's she's got.