While appearing on stage at 30 Rock to perform his current single “Heartbreak” on Third Hour Today earlier this morning, Hunter Hayes surprised viewers and fans around the world with the announcement that Wild Blue (Part I), – initially rumored to be released on October 11 – will now arrive earlier: this Friday, August 16 on digital platforms everywhere (Warner Music Nashville).
Wild Blue came during a transformative period in Hayes’ life, and the long-awaited album showcases his journey through the changes he came to embrace. As he declares in the title track, “I close my eyes, cut the cord, drop the chain and I shed my skin,” Hayes has found a version of himself that is ready to take on the future on his own terms.
The album as a whole is a celebration in every sense of the word, though it’s not an endless party. It’s a recognition of a difficult period of growth, the kind of challenge required in a life well lived. Hayes faced up to change in his real life, and he put it all down in his art.
On his decision to surprise release, Hayes shares, “So, we initially planned to perform on Today and announce our October album release, however because the album was finished and because the fans were asking for more new musicnow, we wanted them to have it as soon as it was ready… and have it all, not just five or six songs.”
Knowing it was time to release the music to the world, Hayes invited The Tennessean into his home in Nashville, Tennessee which he transformed into a living/breathing studio so his relationship with music could exist without the constraints of rented studio time. Instead, Hayes approached Wild Blue with an attitude of creating whenever inspiration struck. It’s also why you’ll see Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, B3, Bass Guitar, Strings, Banjo, Mandolin, Dobro, Drums, Programming and Resonator Guitar adjacent to his name on the liner notes across the 10 Wild Blue tracks.
“I had nothing keeping me from saying what I wanted, writing what I wanted, producing what I wanted,” Hayes told The Tennessean, revealing his immersive process for what is Part I of III and the most personal, reflective and vulnerable album the 27-year-old has written, recorded, produced and released. “I spent a lot of time writing as if the world was watching, and I decided to make a record as if no one was watching, and that helped me remove all my filters. Budgets weren’t an issue. Permission wasn’t an issue. The only thing that wasn’t happening is I wasn’t speaking my truth and writing it.”
The album title and theme – Wild Blue – is named after the first song Hayes penned for the project, noting: “As soon as we wrote ‘Wild Blue,’ I went into every conversation or co-write with that idea in mind and it led to some of the most honest realizations about myself and how I approach love and relationships. I’m so thankful for this journey and the path it’s set me on personally and professionally.”
The album includes his four previously-released songs, including latest single “Heartbreak,” “One Good Reason,” “Dear God” and “One Shot.”
“I hope people hear the hope in its message. There is this sense of flight,” Hayes says of his Wild Blue experience, “feeling that freedom and kind of loving the starting-over aspect of it. When you’re holding on to too many things, there’s no way you can possibly do that.”
And with Wild Blue, he moves into a future that is – happily, wonderfully – unknown.
Wild Blue Track Listing and Songwriters are as follows:
1. Madness (Hunter Hayes, Sam Ellis, Sara Haze)
2. Wild Blue (Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges, Gordie Sampson)
3. Heartbreak (Hunter Hayes, Thomas “Tawgs” Salter, Gordie Sampson, Simon Wilcox)
4. One Good Reason (Hunter Hayes, Sam Ellis)
5. Dear God (Hunter Hayes, Andy Grammer, Dave Spencer)*
6. Loving You (Hunter Hayes, Jordan Reynolds, Dave Barnes)
7. My Song Too (Hunter Hayes, Jordan Reynolds, Dave Barnes)
8. One Shot (Hunter Hayes)**
9. Night and Day (Hunter Hayes, Derrick Southerland, Sam Ellis)
10. Still (Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges, Tommee Profitt)^