By Emily Wagner
People don’t want to call Walker Hayes country. Fine. His unorthodox style, with riffs and rhymes, isn’t the country sound that we are accustomed to. But the truth behind Hayes’ lyrics are parallel with what country music is all about.
His latest album, 8Tracks, Vol. 3: Black Sheep is a masterpiece. Hayes has never shied away from what makes him different or what makes him a ‘Black Sheep’ so it only makes sense that the album and a track are named “Black Sheep.”
Within 8 songs Hayes covers all topics. From “Chapel” a song about Hayes son who he could not be more different from, or “Wish I Could Drink” which takes on Hayes’ own battle with alcoholism and remaining sober.
We all love “Don’t Let Her” the first song leaked from the album. The concept of writing a song to your wife’s future husband is so odd and a little unnerving, but Hayes’ ability to keep it light hearted and honest, makes the song work. He pays tribute to his wife in another song “Goldest” where he somehow manages to write a song with mentions of Michael Phelps, Betty White, and Meryl Streep. And that’s just the first verse.
If you don’t want to listen to the entire album, take a few minutes and at least listen to the following 3 songs: “Acceptance Speech,” “Dad’s Sailboat,” and “Love Hate.”
“Love Hate” is such a clever song, and ode to his hometown, to the people that said he’d never make, who thought his dreams were foolish; to now the hometown who adores the success he has become, who wants to put his face on a billboard.
“Dad’s Sailboat” makes me cry. Hayes’ take a look at his father, his hero, and sees the effect age, and growing old has on a person. It’s inevitable, but sometimes we just want our heroes to stay the strong and dependable people we knew them as when we were children.
“Acceptance Speech” was written by both Hayes and Kelsea Ballerini. It gives such a hard look at ourselves, and reminds us to stop the comparisons to others. We tend to be our own worst enemy, toughest critic, and this song is powerful in reminding you to accept yourself for who you are.
Good music is good music. I don’t care if it sounds twangy, with a steel guitar and banjo, or if it comes across with strange beats and riffs. Walker Hayes, don’t ever change and keep making meaningful music.