Author: Hunter Hayes
Genre: Country, pop, young adult, teen
My Rating: *****
Official Rating: Young adult/teen
Age Group: 14+
I'm going to do this by song because it seems like the most efficient way to review an entire album.
(Note: I apologize for the length this method caused, but because of the
content of the album and how it is distributed, I thought it would be
the best way to review this particular work. Due to the length, I have
inserted a break in the post. Please click the link to read my analysis
of each song.)
Wow. I'm honestly impressed. Hayes' first album was a bit disappointing with all the little suggestive lines that made it hard to listen to with younger children around. This album, while it does have its suggestive lines, is a lot deeper than that. I remember listening to the first two albums and being struck by Hayes' ability to really address the desires of fellow human beings in a unique way. This album, though it does have its weaknesses, takes that ability one step further. Yes, at times he sounds like someone playing the victim card and complaining about broken relationships, but for the most part there's a little more there than meets the eye.
Style: fast, wild, and fun
Summary: In love with a girl who is unpredictable, a wild card is how he sees her. Whether that's an unexpected kiss, her refusal to simply follow a leader, he's willing to confess he's addicted to the mystery and surprise he sees in the girl. The lyrics are relatively acceptable, but I'm led to wonder what will happen with the surprise factor isn't as strong.
Style: upbeat, moderately fast, cheerful
Summary: Young love seems to have one storyline, and the singer is sick of it. He's sure his love story is different and is tired of hearing about all the stereotypes he should fill. After all, they have a fast car, a James Dean spirit, and a Norma Jean heart. So off they go to write their own story and "blow Shakespeare's mind." They're packing up to go on vacations together and not caring what the world thinks (even when it comes to "kissin' in public") because the world doesn't know them and can't control their story anyway. That's all fine and good, but when the story is written "right or wrong" how they want it and breaking the rules as to how love lives are supposed to work, that can be problematic. Still, it seems he has the right intention since he's been praying that she'll take his name since the moment they met.
Simply put: stereotypes are just that and the singer wants to write his own storyline, "right or wrong."
Style: slow and sweet
Summary: He's known this girl for a long time now but she still manages to surprise him. The "sweetest stories fallin' from your lips" and he holds onto every word. Finding himself caught by the pull of the girl's gravity, even after flying high for a while now, he's "still learnin', still burnin', still fallin'." Hand holding, a kiss like a spark that lights a fire, late night drives, and "after every sunrise holding you" still find him falling in love. Because "girl your name's still my favorite and always will be."
Style: cheerful, gets wilder and more intense
Summary: Turning vandal, he's ready to spray-paint "I love you" in a bridge and just hearing it from his girl makes him want to fly. That's all well and good, until we get the vague line "if it's gonna be any night it might as well be tonight" though we're not really told what "it" is. Everything this girl does is having an impact, whether that's how she dances, talks, touches him, kisses him, breathes, looks at him, or crashes right through his comfort zone. He loves her name next to his and he thinks it would make a good tattoo. He's also pretty sure she's going to be the reason he does some things he hadn't expected to do. He doesn't want to forget this and what better way to insure something lasts forever than to "ink it in on my skin"? With only one heart to give and a whole life to live, he's sure he's finally found the one he wants to give it all to and loves everything about her--especially her name.
Style: slow and sad but soothing
Summary: It's an unfortunate fact: people who are different feel rejected, especially when out in society without friends. Bullying is the official term, and Hayes is going to address it. Because it's not just "sticks and stones" but it's also not defining as to who you are. Everyone has a different way of being and the message is simple: be you. Because only you can be.
Style: slow and strangely eerie, then old and gentle
Summary: music without words
"You Think You Know Somebody"
Style: hurt, sad, slow, mournful
Summary: Hayes has opened up mind and heart to someone, revealed who he really is, and realized "it's supposed to feel different, it's supposed to feel safe" and it doesn't. Late night calls, morning kisses, "I can't live without you"s, it all seems to be falling apart. Did she really love him like she said she did? He's torn apart and not sure if he can go through this again. "It's all just a blur, the nights are the worst, this bed still smells like you." The going has gotten tough, and he thought they could weather it, but it turns out she might not be willing to or even interested in putting forth any effort to save the relationship. Hayes obviously is and finds it hard to accept that she's not who he thought she was. She's gone when the lights come on, it's happened before, and now he's finally hit the edge. He doesn't know this girl and doesn't know how to fix this.
Style: moderate pace, hopeful
Summary: Just like everyone else, Hayes gets lost and can't seem to figure out who he is or where he's going. You know, those moments when "heaven couldn't be" and everything else is falling apart? But somehow, something always manages to bring him back. Sunrises, a smile from a stranger, little moments that are like flashlights, bringing "just enough home when it shines" to keep him moving forward. He's glad the Lord doesn't keep score and that he's been forgiven because the moments when he seems to have completely lost it, well, He's a flashlight hidden in places Hayes never expected to find Him. "Oh, who am I? Dust and water, touched by the Divine" is what Hayes wisely concludes.
"When Did You Stop Loving Me"
Style: sorrowful and slow
Summary: He's not sure when, but she "let me down so perfectly" and walked off "so easily" and he's now left wondering "baby, when did you stop loving me?" When did she give up, and did he fail to love her enough (or too much)? Did she have someone else? Hayes is devastated. He's broken and he wants to know what went wrong. Was it him? He doesn't want reasons and excuses. He just wants to know when it actually ended for her. He feels like love is a lie and isn't sure he can ever love again. It's all a big question: what happened?
"...like I was saying (jam)"
Summary: this is basically an extension to the song just before it. It's very short.
Style: fast, upbeat
Summary: "We get so close but we never touch" because they need to hide from the eyes around them, watching closely. They're like "two criminals with a dream to steal." Basically, Hayes and his girl are in love but they have to hide this from the rest of the world. This hiding, this lying, is messing with their minds and it's hard to handle. The harder it gets, the more often they find themselves needing each other. It's not clear as to why they have to stay hidden, but they're well aware that doing so isn't necessarily good for their relationship.
"Nothing Like Starting Over"
Style: slow-ish, swaying
Summary: There's no going back now. Hayes knows he's starting over and needs to move on. He's getting rid of the pain, letting go, and starting over. In fact, "love's got a way of letting you know" when it's time, whether that's a cold kiss, looking away, not meaning what you're saying, that kind of thing. It's not that something's wrong with Hayes, he's sure, it's just that "it's time to reset, rethink, reposition." It feels good, too, letting go of everything.
Does he believe anything lasts?
"If It's Just Me"
Style: cheerful, easy beat
Summary: Something's going on and Hayes feels like "it's just me." Maybe they need to talk, he'll do whatever she wants (including walking away), because this crying in the middle of the night (alone), isn't working. He might just be over-thinking things, but he's pretty sure there's been a lack of communication. Still, he's willing to take the blame and walk away so that he's the who's hurt, not her. No, he's not trying to run away (he'd rather stay and take the blame) but if she's already gone, well, he's moving on too. At least then he'll be free.
"Love Too Much"
Style: sparkling, swaying, gentle, moderate beat
Summary: "If it's all good intentions, why are we scared of living?" because, after all, the world is a heavy thing to carry alone. But that's why little things are used to make it possible. Hayes concludes that "you can't say you love too much. You can't say you care too much" and you can't do too much to help others. Everyone has a story, and everybody needs a hand because "you're somebody's hero."