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Hunter Hayes (Encore) Hunter Hayes Atlantic

The “encore” edition of Hunter Hayes’ eponymous debut album, with a hefty 9 additional songs, is a much deserved re-release and should undoubtedly be a part of any Hunter Hayes’ fan’s collection, or the starting place for anyone looking to get into the young country star’s music.

Simply put, Hunter Hayes has crafted a delightful album. As a multi-instrumentalist, Hayes plays all of the instruments on almost every track of the album and does so with session-musician accuracy and flare, without the slightest loss of character. The album shimmers with pop-country production akin to a Taylor Swift album, but has a surprisingly live sound that complements Hayes’ mature vocal performance and melodies. “’Cause love don’t know what distance is,” Hayes asserts on the track “I Want Crazy,” a larger than life love anthem that is sure to win over any heart. Hayes’ duet with Jason Mraz on the lighthearted “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” keeps an amusingly uplifting mood, while Hayes and Mraz sing about the relationship difficulties that they, in reality, probably do not have: “Seems like even cupid don’t know what to do / Everybody’s got somebody but me.”

Hunter Hayes is a young country music force that has a promising career ahead of him. With such broad musical talents and a keen ear for production all his own, Hayes will undeniably be a radio staple for years to come.

Roland’s Rating: 8/10 Key Tracks: “I Want Crazy,” “Somebody’s Heartbreak”

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