Hunter Hayes is a one-album-so-far country artist that recently popped on the scene. Interestingly enough, he has pronounced himself to be a conservative Christian: and while his music doesn’t often reference God, it is lacking in some of the stuff that secular music has in massive quantities: cursing, drinking, drugs, and sex. His music centers mostly around love, with a breakup song or two mixed with quite a few love songs. Some of his tracks deviate from this theme, but that is certainly the most prominent one on the album.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
The album kicks off with a catchy track that opens with a classic acoustic country guitar that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to listen to the rest. “Storm Warning” is a song about a good-looking girl that the narrator sees, and it’s love at first sight, but he knows that the relationship is going to end in disaster: “[she’s] one part angel, one part perfect, one part brick”. The song itself is a catchy tune that could be interpreted as a warning to us guys in pursuing a girl based completely on looks, which is defiantly a positive message. Its two drawback are that in his description of the woman he describes her as “hotter than the heat in July”, which I find disrespectful to anyone, remarking them in that kind of a shallow, worldly manner. Also, the song says “I have a feeling when the night meets the morning/I’m gonna wish I had a storm warning”. The song never states what happened overnight, and it doesn’t necessarily imply anything either, but this lyric throws up a red flag anyway. Overall, I’d recommend using discretion on this song.
“Wanted” is a deep, sweet, clean loves song that never once mentions the girl’s body or a desire to have a relationship past a kiss on the lips and a tight hug. As love songs go, this one is one of the best ones I have ever listened to.
“If You Told Me To” is a soft ballad giving his love a list of all of the things he would do for her. Overall, it is a nice, smooth song that has no objectionable content at all.
And then we get to “Love Makes Me”, which introduces a small negative penetrating theme on the album: that love is an excuse to do crazy things. The song is one of the most objectionable on the album, as he sings about sneaking out late and driving to his girlfriend’s house to spend the night with her. Overall, not worth the listen or the buy. Avoid this track.
The next track makes a total turnaround, though. “Faith To Fall Back On” talks about how he treated his girl badly when she was with him, and then when he left he realized his mistakes and turned to God. You can tell he doesn’t quite have his faith entirely together: “These days I’m not sure if I know what I’m doing here or where I’ll go”, but the rest could easily have been written by a contemporary Christian artist.
“Somebody’s Heartbreak” is a very interesting track that takes the lesson that it seemed like “Storm Warning” was trying to teach and turns it on his head. The girl he’s singing to sounds a bit like the poem “O, Think Not That I Am Faithful To A Vow”. She seems to flit back and forth, not knowing what she wants. The narrator, however, is saying that if she’s going to break somebody’s heart, then he’d like it to be his. While the content of this song is not entirely objectionable, the theme seems to be centered around recklessly falling in love with someone who isn’t going to stick around. The message is not a positive one, so I wouldn’t recommend this track either.
“Rainy Season” is a slow, depressing ballad that worms its way onto the album, contrasting with the peppy, lovey-dovey rest of the album. The song centers around a couple (it’s not stated whether or not they are married, but it does mention sharing a house, though whether it is a metaphorical house or a physical house is not clear) breaking off their relationship and parting ways. This is another song with no objectionable content, but it seems to play into the feelings of denial after a lost relationship. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not necessarily a good one either.
As seems to be a theme on this album, the next song is a great one with a great message. “Cry With You” is a fantastic melody again centered around a couple, except this time it is a strong about building a strong love. Something is bothering the girl emotionally, and she is feeling down. The song is about the narrator’s desire to listen to what’s troubling her and to cry with her while she’s telling him. He constantly tells her that she’s not alone, and that he’s there for her and will always be there. It is a great song and I highly recommend it.
The next song is fun and peppy and makes you smile even though the topic is about the aftermath of a breakup. “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” has the narrator looking around wherever he is and seeing all of the couples around him and lamenting about his lost love. The lines “seems like everyone around me’s on they’re honeymoon” and “lovers being lovers in the corner booth” could be interpreted as objectionable, but overall the song is pretty lighthearted and innocent.
“What You Gonna Do” is a lot softer, and is another song with no objectionable content. The narrator is talking to a girl who is planning on leaving him, or a girl that he’s leaving (it is not clear which), asking her what she’s gonna do when he’s gone. This song also features the additional vocals of Ashley Monroe, which set it apart from the rest: it is a well-written duet and the voices are very well matched. Overall a very good track.
“More Than I Should” resumes the negativity of the album, giving us a situation in which the narrator proclaims that he “loved [the girl] more than [he] should[‘ve].” The song continues to strongly insinuate that the couple slept together, and that she left him afterwards. The song could be interpreted as a warning to stay away from bad relationships, but the objectionable content overrides any positive message the song could hold. I recommend avoiding this track.
“All You Ever Wanted” moves to another slow ballad about a man’s regret for his previous relationship, giving a very positive message of regret and acceptance of mistakes in love. The thing that he left out of the relationship was, it seems, showing real emotion. It is a song that teaches about communication in relationships from the narrator’s personal experience: without it, they crumble. A very good, inspirational track filled with heartfelt regret that teaches a valuable lesson to the listener.
Encore Edition Bonus Tracks:
The next song, “In A Song”, is another good lesson-teacher: the song takes another stance on a broken relationship, it’s about a man using music to recover from a broken relationship. It’s a song that talks about dealing with regret and coming out of heartbreak stronger, a good song for anyone going through the same things. The realtionship, as the song describes it, was an unhealthy one, and the escape was what the narrator needed. The song has one possibly-objectionable lyric: “Now I’m not saying that there won’t be too many lonely nights,” but it is certainly worth a listen and a buy.
“I Want Crazy” brings us back to the emotions described in “Love Makes Me”, saying that love is an excuse to do things that you wouldn’t do normally. In this one, it encourages crossing all of the lines and breaking all the boundaries, physically and mentally, but more physically. “Yeah, look at us baby, tonight the midnight rules are breaking, there’s no such thing as wild enough, and maybe we just think too much. Who needs to play it safe in love? Let’s be crazy!” So yeah. Avoid.
“A Thing About You” is like Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are” without the unnecessary and offensive use of the word “sexy”. This song is all about a boy looking at a girl and seeing her as perfect. It is a wonderful song that leaves you with a warmth in your heart and a smile on your face. It has one alcohol reference: “an Italian tower leaning like it’s had to much to drink”, but in context it’s amusing and innocent so I wouldn’t call it objectionable. Definitely a keeper.
“Better Than This” is written from the perspective of a guy who lives his life for the journey, and keeps moving through with excitement and marvel at the mystery around him. It’s a fun, peppy song about enjoying life, and it has few drawbacks. It might not give the best advice: “getting by on little sleep and coffee cups” is not a very good way to survive, but the song itself is innocent and enjoyable. It even references God, without using His name in vain: “I kinda like it when I walk out the door/Not knowing what the good Lord’s got in store.” So it’s a great song, and I highly recommend it.
“Light Me Up” is a fun, electric guitar-driven piece about a guy who was in the depths of heartbreak and was pulled out by a new love. It’s fun, upbeat, and has no objectionable content. I personally enjoyed it greatly.
This album was an interesting mix of some of the best secular songs I’ve heard and some songs that I would not want to keep on my iPod. With only 3/17 songs having objectionable content, it’s a great album to purchase individual tracks or the entire thing. The songs that are clean are all fantastic, and this is easily one of, if not my favorite secular album I have ever heard. While those three songs stick out like sore thumbs, the rest of the tracks are filled with high quality country music that has a large amount of re-listen potential. The songs are sure to put a smile on your face and warm your heart, and if any of them relate to you on a personal level (and Hunter Hayes covers a large amount of ground as far as relationships are concerned) the songs will really hit you, and will twist your emotions towards the subject that Hunter is presenting, making you smile or laugh or cry. I highly, highly recommend this album: if it weren’t for the three objectionable tracks, I would easily rate this a ten out of ten. But, all things considered, my final rating is, as secular albums go:
Secular Album: 9/10