by Catherine Goldberg ’20 A&E Staff
Four years after his last album, country-pop singer Hunter Hayes has released a surprise album, Wild Blue (Part 1). In an interview with Billboard, Hayes said, “I gave myself the right to make a record I didn’t think anybody would ever listen to.” The singer felt a sense of freedom in being able to produce music without the pressure to meet anyone’s expectations. He rented the Warner Music Nashville studio without telling anybody and took the opportunity as a “writing retreat” where he could create music during a particular time of heartbreak and turbulence.
Hayes felt the need to hit the reset button on his life in early 2018. The singer had a painful breakup with his long-time girlfriend, parted ways with a trusted business associate, questioned his friendships, and missed his hometown. In the midst of his existential crisis, Hayes found solace in a piece of art by Scott Hill he had stumbled upon. Hayes collected many paintings by Hill which depict lonesome figures in stunning landscapes. This is what inspired the title of his album and the emotional song “Wild Blue.”
The ten-song collection was completed at the end of June and features his current single “Heartbreak,” and other songs including “Madness,” “One Shot,” “One Good Reason,” “My Song Too,” and “Loving You.” Hayes wrote the last song on the album, “Still,” back in December of 2018, perhaps exposing his soul-searching story. It is about the struggle he has gone through in the past decade, discovering who he is, who people think he is, and who he wants to be.
Hayes collaborated with pop singer Andy Grammer and songwriter Dave Spencer to write the song “Dear God.” He was inspired by Andy Grammer, who raised the question to God, “Are you sure that you don’t mess up?” Hayes said when he heard Grammer pen the question out loud, he froze because that doubt has always been one of his biggest fears.
Overall, the singer hopes that his fans and country music lovers will realize that Wild Blue is the most honest album he has ever made. It exposes him in the most vulnerable state of his life, and he hopes that others will find hope and meaning in the passionate intensity behind his creation. He has been painfully honest with the world, and hopes that it will resonate with those going through similar experiences.