There’s been a lot of really great albums this year. We’ve talked and reviewed the majority of them. HARDY’s collaborative album HIXTAPE Vol 1 may just be the most pleasantly surprising of them all. Maybe that’s what makes it so good; there were no expectations, but here it is, on repeat in my car, and me praying every night for a Vol 2.
Michael Hardy, is killing the country music scene lately with the songs he’s written for Florida Georgia Line and Morgan Wallen, plus the success with his own “Rednecker.” On Hixtape Vol 1 HARDY got together with about 18 of his close friends and other country music stars, to create a memorable, 10 track album.
What kind of country do you like? Some 1990’s, blue collar anthem? Take “Redneck Tendencies” which HARDY takes on with Trace Adkins and Joe Diffie. “Rednecks tend to have some redneck tendencies” is the catch line, a simple nod to all the home grown boys.
Maybe you like the southern rock side to county music. Hardy brings it with Morgan Wallen on “Turn You Down” with crazy guitar riffs from the man, Zakk Wylde.
Still not your style? You like the current country sound? Mitchell Tenpenny and Jon Langston team up with HARDY on “Something A Lil’ Stronger.” These three are some of the most prominent new faces in country music and this song was tailor-made to fit all their voices.
Hardy not only had the help of his friends on this album, but some giants of the industry.
Keith Freaking Urban. Along with Hillary Lindsey contributing the harmonies, “No Place Like Hometown” is a song you could imagine Keith cutting for his own album and taking straight to the top of the charts. That’s what’s amazing about the album; each artist who contributed makes sense. They all sing a song that would make it on their album. Nothing seems forced. Take “Nothin’ Out Here” with Thomas Rhett, that speaks of small town life and embracing it fully. I’m not sure if you’ve listened to Rhett, but that’s true to his life and something he constantly sings about.
The album begins with another rocking, ode to the south with Cole Swindell and Dustin Lynch. “Boy From The South” is unapologetically fun and proud to be from the south, with lyrics like “country girl on his arm, barbed wire on the other.” The petition to have this performed live starts now. Morgen Wallen makes a second appearance on the album with “He Went to Jared.” This song was released before the rest of the album and is generating a lot of buzz. A song of heartbroken guy who lost his love to a guy who “went to Ole Miss..and pushes paper” while he pushes dirt and is sitting alone in a bar.
Speaking of icons that are on the album, Tracy Lawrence lends his voice to “What They Make Backroads For” along with Jake Owen; an unlikely combination, but you can’t help but LOVE it. This album was lacking a good ole backroad song, and it manages to not come off as cliche, and again, all these voices work so well together, who knew?
Maybe you like the slower paced, front porch swinging music? “My Kinda Livin’” takes a step back and reassess the important things in life. Hardy gets contributions from Hunter Phelps and Jameson Rogers; two names that might not jump off the page, but these are the guys behind some of the hottest country songs of the moment and it’s time they are recognized for it.
It’s not always the case, but the last song of the album is the best (no bias here, just facts). HARDY Devin Dawson, and Lauren Alaina take on the topic of an unplanned pregnancy with “One Beer.” It’s a beautifully written song; a simple story of how a beer and a look can turn into a family and the rest of your life. Lauren Alaina’s voice really adds to the song, meshing with both HARDY and Devin’s voice. I couldn’t love this song more. It’s always nice to see artists like HARDY and even Devin Dawson who could not have different country styles, show their softer side with this song.
Still not sure who Hardy is? Clearly Nashville and those deep in the industry not only know him, but respect him and his work. I’ve been ready for Vol: 2 since I finished Vol: 1.