Artist Interview: Country Riser Taylor Hughes Chats About Her New Release “Prayin’ to the Whiskey”

By Aaron Wagner

Get ready to crank this one loud. Real loud.

Country riser Taylor Hughes is out with her latest song this week with “Prayin’ to the Whiskey.” The song packs a punch with its edgy production and downright sly lyrics that gives this song the attitude that it needs.

What I love the most is that Taylor doesn’t hold anything back. It’s 100 MPH, pedal to the metal that has a southern rock flare to it. “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” sounds so good turned up loud on a speaker with some good bass and I can’t imagine how much fun this sounds live.

As Taylor shares with us below, this song is the ultimate devil on one shoulder and angel on the other shoulder. In a genre that isn’t timid about leaning into faith and religion, while acknowledging their human nature, it’s refreshing to hear this type of song from Taylor. And you have to take a close listen to these lyrics, because they’re just so damn clever with plenty of comparisons between church and a bar – if you can believe that.

Below is my chat with Taylor on her new single “Prayin’ to the Whiskey.”

What was the inspiration behind writing “Prayin’ to the Whiskey?”

My new single, “Prayin’ to the Whiskey,” was inspired by a conversation my dad and I were having about past experiences and memories from our “party days” back in college. I think most of us can agree that our college days were some of the best times of our lives, especially tailgating season! Believe it or not, my friends and I used to party with my dad and his friends before the CATS played.

Now being from Kentucky, bourbon/whiskey is not just a drink, it is more of a passion and my family is very into it. You could call us bourbon-whiskey connoisseurs so of course writing a song about it was a no-brainer. The idea of “praying” and the religious references came from the fact that my family is Catholic. The song is about this girl who tries her best to be a “good Catholic” girl but also struggles with wanting to live this kind of wild, party life. The internal struggle between the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other that most of us deal with in life (and it does not have to be Whiskey) is the feeling conveyed by this song.

Are you a whiskey drinker yourself? What’s your go-to whiskey? 

I am definitely a whiskey drinker but when I say whiskey, I mean bourbon. I tend to have pretty expensive taste, I blame that on my husband and family! They have introduced me to all kinds of bourbon-whiskeys so my palette has refined over the years. My favorite, go-to drink is the classic smoked old fashioned made with Larceny or Buffalo Trace. If I drink it neat or on the rocks; I enjoy Knob Creek 12 year, Michter’s Toasted Barrel, or Elijah Craig 18 year and toasted barrel. So if any of them are looking to sponsor a bourbon loving, Kentucky artist, let me know! 

Is there a certain style you were wanting this song to sound like? Or a certain vibe?

“Prayin’ to the Whiskey” is not your typical female artist song and that’s what I love. My style is a lot more in your face, bold, country/southern rock; it’s a little more badass. This song is also kind of dark so I want it to hit hard but also be a song you turn up on a Saturday night while you’re drinking whiskey. That lead guitar lick really sets the tone for this rocking, party song. I love all kinds of country music but my favorite is Texas Country so I try to mix that with my love for southern rock and
sometimes even a little blues; I’ve got a lot of soul in these pipes!

What made you want to release this song as your next release?

I decided that “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” should be my next single for a few reasons. First, it was the 1st song I wrote when I moved to Nashville a little over three years ago. A lot of friends, family, fans, and co-writers consider “Prayin’ to the Whiskey” my signature song.  Secondly, it is a special song to me because I wrote it with my dad. Music is a family business for me so whenever he and I can sit down and write together, it makes the song more personal to me. This past year was rough on my family; cancer scares, losing loved ones, being away from each other because of COVID. I just thought that it would be special to share a dad & daughter co-write release to introduce him to the world as a writer.

Do you have a favorite lyrical phrase that you’re proud of writing? 

In this song, one of my favorite lines is “see the man, behind the bar, well he’s my preacher… till he yells last call!” Bartenders are known for listening to story after story from their customers and sometimes they even act as therapist or just give advice to tipsy patrons. It’s kind of hilarious! So painting a scene of some girl downing one drink after another and talking the bartenders head off just seemed right. Just like a sinner confessing their sins to a priest. 

What was your favorite part of the recording process? 

I think my favorite part of the recording process was being able to not only bounce ideas off my producer but also learn more about how a song comes together as a whole. It is one thing to write a song on your guitar and play it acoustically but to put a whole production behind it is an amazing feeling; the idea that my song is really coming to life!

I always laugh when I think about going into the studio to record three singles, one being my debut “Good Taste.” It felt so easy recording the other two but when it came to working on “Prayin’ to the Whiskey,” it seemed like I was climbing a mountain. I was hard on myself when working on this song because it meant a little more to me. I really wanted my co-writer (my dad) to love it but like I mentioned before, it is a signature song for me; I wanted it to be perfect. 

 What do you want listeners to takeaway from the new song? 

After my listeners hear this song, I want them to enjoy a nice glass of whiskey! But really, I hope it shows them the kind of artist that I am; my style, sound, even the energy I can bring to my live shows. Fans have been patiently waiting for more music from me and I’m ready to deliver. I am incredibly thankful for all their support and I hope they love jamming to this song and that it gets them excited to see me perform live again. 2021 has been great so far and there’s so much more I have planned for them.