Tell me this hasn't happened to you: I'm shopping at the local megaplex, and a song comes on the overhead radio / PA system for shoppers. After a few lines, I'm drawn into the lyrics, but I can't place the singer. Quickly, I pull out my phone and scribble a note, transcribing what I can decipher from my learned ears so that when I get home and near a PC, I can go online and find out who this guy is, when his album streeted, and what I've been missing.
It happened to me yesterday (yet again), and his name is Hunter Hayes.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll (no doubt) say it again: there’s some none-too-subtle grace in any performer knowing what his (or her strengths are) and then just delivering on them. Many performers – as well as many bands – have done it for years; while they might experiment with developing alternate tracks, they tend to stick to what they do best, and they reap the rewards from committed fans. That’s exactly what you get with an album like Hunter Hayes self-named release on Atlantic. You don’t have to be a music connoisseur to appreciate how Hayes strikes out a comfortable middle-ground upon which to build these tracks together into a solid, easy listening experience.
Of course, he’s not only establishing a presence but also cultivating a following with this disk, and I’ve no doubt he’s striving for a fan base of faithful and reliable country music listeners. (As a follower of some terrific country singers, I welcome him to the fold!) Songs like “Rainy Season,” “All You Ever,” and “Faith To Fall Back On” could easily find a home in rotation on any C&W radio station; but there’s more than usual to be found on this release. With a doubt, the best and most memorable track here (so far as this reviewer is concerned) is “Wanted,” a terrific ballad about two folks in love and how one pines to have his special significant other feel exactly the way she should in the relationship. It’s got great soft-pop potential, as well, and that’s why I wouldn’t be so quick to write the young singer/songwriter off into only country music territory.
And, while some folks might be quick to dismiss the album as yet one more young country sensation, I’d encourage you to give this one another spin and listen closer the next time: there’s more to be found that just another country crooner. Hayes hints at pop-crossover potential as well as adult contemporary with his comfortable command of his ‘sound,’ and there’s even some harder guitar in “More Than I Should” that might surprise (if not silence) his harshest critics.
With a voice reminiscent of Keith Urban when he was earning his stripes in the country world, Hunter Hayes is nothing short of a revelation. This is an easy album to enjoy, which also runs the risk of making it easy to lose in the rush to find a place amongst your favorites. Hopefully, he’ll hang in there for the long haul; given that he only recently turned 20, I’m figuring he’s just getting started on the road to wherever his career will take him.
So here’s hoping he can build on this success and find the kind of mainstream potential he deserves.
Twenty years old may sound young to many of you, but newcomer Hunter Hayes is talented far beyond his years. The singer-songwriter just released his self-titled major label debut with Atlantic Records on October 11. The record contains 12 solid songs, all of which he had a hand in writing. To say this kid is talented is an understatement. His lyrics are intricate and intelligent, and there is nothing remotely cheesy about him. Plus, he plays just about every instrument known to man: guitar, piano, … more