Hunter Hayes (who is currently in the process of trying to break the world record for most live shows in 24 hours) has been riding the wave of pop country since the release of his self-titled album back in October of 2011. Hayes even re-released the album with a couple extra tracks, and although the album’s singles get a considerable amount of airplay on the local country radio station, it was about time for something new. Thus comes “Storyline.”
Now, most die-hard country fans would likely toss this Justin Bieber-esque musician aside. With pop sounds that resemble Taylor Swift’s country-but-not-really-country sound, it would be rather easy to do such. However, regardless of the genre, “Storyline” is actually a surprisingly well crafted set of tracks that carefully align with the album’s title, following a heart-wrenching story that many can relate to. Hunter Hayes is infamous for wooing young girls with lyrics revolving around heartbreak and romance, so naturally this is what said storyline follows. Yet the amount of work put into creating this is admirable.
“Storyline” starts off on a heavily optimistic note, with a song titled “Wildcard,” an upbeat charming song, to be expected of Hunter Hayes, naturally. The title track, “Storyline,” follows, and is equally adorable but also unique in its own instrumental variation, while the next two tracks offer the same pattern and originality. All of the songs’ titles resemble the initial stages in a relationship — the chase, getting together, etc. This formula continues until the hit single off the album, “Invisible,” which sounds essentially like an uplifting set of pop rock instrumental symphonies while Hayes croons to some mystery woman praising her beauty.
Following “Invisible” is an unexpected interlude in the song, which lies as another set of dramatic instrumentals that transition into an endearing country tune midway through the track. Immediately afterwards, “Storyline” takes a tastefully dark turn, a turn that may be representative of the breakup stage.
“You Think You Know Somebody” sets the tone for this portion of the album. Although the theme is supposed to be generally morose, it’s still composed instrumentally in such a way that it is characteristic of that Hunter Hayes pop country sound, and continues for the next couple tracks, grieving over lost love with songs like “When Did You Stop Loving Me” and “Flashlight,” which seems to offer that small speck of hope for reunification that one feels after a breakup.
Another admirably artistic choice in the album is the track “ …Like I was saying (jam),” which seems to follow an arrangement that resembles the way Justin Timberlake combines two songs into one. This song becomes a continuation of the previous track “When Did You Stop Loving Me.” For the remainder of the album, this tastefully dark set of music and post-break up songs continues until the final track “Love Too Much,” which truly wraps up the theme for the album. Hunter Hayes croons, “You can never love too much” — all too fitting of a lyric for the musician.
Overall, “Storyline” is an impressive follow-up after three years of hearing “I Want Crazy” and “Wanted” over and over again. Hayes weaves a sappy storyline into several tracks in such a way that is well-thought out, not overdone, and unique, as each track truly stands out in its own way. Best of luck on that world record attempt, though!
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You enjoy sappy pop country that puts you in a good mood.