For Hunter Hayes, complacency is the enemy. After being nominated for a handful of Grammy Awards, snagging a collection of CMA’s and touring the world behind a pair of critically-acclaimed albums, it would be far too easy for the revered singer-songwriter and top-notch musician to rest on his laurels. But Hayes wants more. “I had to get in the mindset of I’m starting over," the 25-year-old says boldly of a rigorous two-year process during which he wrote more than 100 songs; made a Nashville studio his personal playground and, most important for his development as a category-defying artist and musical innovator, flipped convention on its head.
The initial returns on Hayes’ focused pursuit of the bold and new are a trio of songs released direct to fans via his social media: “Yesterday’s Song,” “Amen,” and “Young Blood.” Written with Barry Dean and Martin Johnson and produced with Dann Huff, “Yesterday’s Song” is a sonically boisterous stunner; a rollicking, breakneck rock jam that, at its lyrical core, is a no-nonsense breakup song — a kiss-off that doubles as “a joyous celebration” of moving on and never looking back. “It’s like ‘I’m gone and going so fast you’ll never catch me!’” he says of the song’s flavor, adding that breakup songs like it, off “life-changing” albums like Rascal Flatts’ Me and My Gang, Adele’s 21 or John Mayer’s Continuum, have long been essential to his life.
“Amen” and “Young Blood” also mark exciting new territory for the singer. The former finds Hayes embracing his spiritual side without neglecting his big-throated pop melody, and is what the singer describes as “a lonely man’s prayer.” “Young Blood” might very well be Hayes’ most full-throttle guitar assault yet, not to mention his most lyrically mature. The song, written with Solomon and Lauren Olds, details what Hayes calls “the spark and firework of a new exciting relationship” and finds Hayes embracing his reckless side. The song was also entirely self-produced by the musician.
Whereas previous albums like his Double Platinum-certified, self-titled 2011 debut and 2014’s “Storyline” were cut in relatively rapid succession, Hayes had the freedom this go-round to explore every musical avenue of his intrigue. Initially moving out to the country and living at his friend’s house, he dove headfirst into the writing process. Hayes recognizes such increased hands-on creativity and a newfound wizened humility is essential for any top-notch artist.
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