There will be a lot of controversy as to whether Walker Hayes is country or not but personally, I do not care. As someone who clearly loves country music and someone who loved hip hop in the 90’s to early 2000’s, I really like this album – I like it for what it is not for what it is marketed as. Walker has blended the country pop style with modern hip hop and pop rap well, making his music not only interesting but exciting.
Hayes is not new to the music industry as released two singles Pants and Why Wait For Summer back in 2010 via Capitol Records Nashville. Despite having a record deal and releasing the singles, Hayes album was shelved and eventually he had no choice but to accept reality and he went to work at Costco to support his family. Just about giving up on the music industry dream, Walker then had what he describes as an angel appear into his life in the form of Shane McAnally. Shane and music manager Jason Owen recognised Walker’s talent and how his style could fit in todays market and they signed him as as one of two artists when they relaunched Sony imprint Monument Records in January.
In 2016 Hayes released two 8 track EP’s via Shane McAnally’s SMACKsongs. I loved Walker’s EP’s and hope that people who like this album go and listen to them too. There are some really stand out tracks on there that I would have loved to have seen make the album such as Lela’s Stars and the hilarious Your Girlfriend Does which has a great play on words lyric to Willie Nelson. However, if every song from the EP’s made the album then it would defeat the object of releasing a “new” album, especially when each EP had 8 tracks.
For the life of me I cannot put my finger on who Walker reminds me of and no it’s not Sam Hunt but I do know in places I instantly thought of Afro Man’s Get High and Outkast but there is someone else too.
Hardcore country fans may not quite get this album but I really enjoyed every track – they are upbeat, catchy, fun, great to dance along to and all round good mood setters and definitely worth a listen.
It is hard to pick the stand out tracks on an album where you won’t likely be skipping tracks anytime soon but I do lean towards some more than others.
It is obvious to why You Broke Up With Me was selected as the lead single as is very memorable, upbeat and catchy. You Broke Up With Me is not your typical break up song – despite the song’s lyrics of a failed relationship, there is a deeper meaning behind it and in fact, the song is a sugar coated dig at friends of convenience and in Walker’s case, when all those industry friends stopped calling when his career took a bad turn but instantly came rushing back when it picked up again. We have all experienced those fair weathered friends at some point right?
You can’t crash my party with your ‘Sorry’s and ‘What Are We’s
Don’t be rainin’ on my Mardi Gras parade for a minute
I ain’t even fixin’ to listen to your guilt trippin’
You’re forgettin’ girl you made your bed and didn’t want me in it (Hey!)
Another strong track for me is Halloween which also featured on his volume 2 EP. The song features Nicolle Galyon who brings a beautiful smooth and soulful edge to the song with her flawless vocal. This has a very strong Hip Hop sound with R&B elements. The chorus is incredibly infectious and slick.
Beckett, another track that was originally off the EP is a lot of fun and lyrically so sweet. The words speak of the innocence of childhood and features Walker’s four year old son Beckett.
When I grow up I wanna be like Beckett
Eatin’ breakfast butt naked
Ain’t even tryin’ to be famous
Just wonderin’ where his airplane is
Shut Up Kenny is a great track and is inspired by Kenny Chesney. A huge fan of Chesney, Walker is not throwing shade at the country star but simply speaking of a personal experience he faced whilst driving in the car with his wife. During an argument, Kenny came on the radio singing lyrics that related to their situation to which Walker reacted “Shut Up Kenny”. The song has a nice smooth, chilled out vibe to it and is said to have had the approval of Kenny Chesney himself.
Beer In The Fridge is a nice ballad with a really simple yet beautiful melody which is really quite relaxing – the song is just lovely to listen to.
Mind Candy – the rhythm and beat to this track stand out making a very toe tapping song and the laid back, easy flowed , Trippy – sleepy chorus is really gentle and chilled.
Craig – Country, R & B and Hip hop soul at its best. Although the country element is minimal, the song itself and the lyrics make the perfect country song, it just needs those traditional instruments or at least an acoustic feel which will change the song entirely- something I would be very eager to hear one day. However, this is a great tune and quite hypnotic. The song closes the album on a smooth, groove edge
boom. is instantly enjoyable, even my toddler absolutely loves it – we danced around the living room for hours to it. The melodies to the songs are well crafted and very tuneful with infectious, easy going beats and all the little details on each song are noticeable and important. Walker has a great melodious voice which suits the hip hop element rather well as well as the country element. I always crave something new to listen to in the country verse and found this album quite refreshing as it really is rather different. In a genre where a lot of male artists are starting to sound similar to each other, this album was needed.
Pre order boom. by Walker Hayes here