By John Lindsay –
Let me take you back a few years. I was managing the Round Up and we did a run of shows that honestly blend together now, but featured performers that have grown to be the best of today’s Nashville. Now during that run we also had a couple of opening acts added to shows that have also gone on to big things. I remember one of those being Kip Moore, and another one that really stood out for me was Walker Hayes.
Now this particular show was in April of 2011, Walker was opening our 10th Anniversary concert that also featured David Nail. He was performing solo and I remember being struck by both his laidback unassuming demeanor and sheer enjoyment of performing. I had never heard of him at the time, but the next day I bought everything I could find of his. His songs and performance were catchy, fun, and intelligently written. To this day “If Father Time Had a Dad,” is one of my favorite songs ever.
Fast forward 7 years, a lost record deal, and new album later… Walker Hayes is back. His new release “Boom.”, is everything that night in 2011 was and better. It is intelligently written, a bit quirky, not the most traditional country album ever, but endlessly catchy and fun. The first radio single is a perfect introduction to folks who may not have ever heard of Walker Hayes. “You Broke Up With Me” is a catchy, upbeat, and fun single that will have you humming along, singing, dancing, and not even suspecting that it’s not the best breakup song on the album. In fact, if the story I was told is true, it isn’t even about a couple’s relationship.
The whole collection is full of hooks, and rhymes that will stick with and keep you singing. As he sings in the second single “Craig,” Walker Hayes definitely has a gift. He is articulate, humble, and fun which the songs reflect perfectly. “Craig” is the true story of one of his friends and the pay it forward principle that was applied for him after the loss of that aforementioned record deal 7 years ago. I recently remember reading the story of Craig’s reaction to the song, and the circumstances surrounding it. According to Walker, Craig was speechless.
The rest of the album has the same energy and melodies to keep it on repeat for hours. Some stand outs include “Shut Up Kenny” a song lamenting that “song” from your last relationship that keeps haunting you on the radio after the break up. “Dollar Store” is an ode to giving everything you can to your girl could ever want…from the dollar store. Then there is “Halloween” about the everyday masks we wear to hide our insecurities.
My 3 favorites are, “Beckett” a song yearning to go back to the life of a child unencumbered by responsibilities or cares. “Prescriptions,” might rank up as one of the great break up songs in recent memory, and “Beer in the Fridge” is just a masterpiece. It’s more serious than most of the album but retains the same intelligence and humor as the other songs. It tells of a relationship broken by alcohol and the story of that 1 beer in the fridge from that relationship. In what is my favorite line, “You’re the reason I quit drinking, and the reason I want to get drunk,” he shows both the lesson of recovery and the lament of the cost.
All in all I can’t recommend it higher; it is my favorite album of 2018 so far. Traditionalist may think it’s a little pop, but it is a great album nonetheless. Congratulations to a true talent that even corporate Nashville couldn’t dismiss.