the mockingbird & THE CROW by HARDY
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Not one to shy away from an ambitious project, HARDY is the latest country artist to take on the double album, a format that—thanks to similarly outsized efforts by fellow artists like Eric Church and Tyler Childers—is becoming something of a rite of passage in the genre. On his hotly anticipated sophomore album, HARDY uses the structure to explore the duality of his own songwriting and artistry, with mockingbird tracks honing in on his country influences and THE CROW leaning into Southern rock. That loose concept was, in part, an accident, as HARDY tells Apple Music he found himself switching between genres while writing for the album. “I love writing country songs,” HARDY tells Apple Music. “And I moved [to Nashville] to write country songs for other people. That part of me just will never go away. But I wanted to experiment and dig into the rock thing. I always do and always had wanted to write country songs, so they just were both happening at the same time.” the mockingbird & THE CROW opens with the midtempo anthem “beer,” which is perhaps the first “beer song” to be told from the perspective of the sudsy brew itself—while such a concept could be gimmicky, it allows for vivid imagery and a fresh take on an overused country trope. “here lies country music” is a formidable entry into the long-running canon of songs lamenting the end of the genre, with a hopeful twist ending. “SOLD OUT” addresses staying grounded while finding success, with palm-muted power chords and a driving beat adding an alt-rock-flavored urgency to the autobiographical track. And closer “THE REDNECK SONG” stays true to its title, with mentions of muddy “truck nuts” and cooking with Bisquick. Guests on the mockingbird portion of the LP include Morgan Wallen on “red” and Lainey Wilson on the hit single “wait in the truck,” the latter subverting the murder ballad form by portraying a man taking violent aim at an abuser rather than an unrequited flame. Jeremy McKinnon, lead vocalist of the rock band A Day to Remember, joins HARDY on “RADIO SONG,” bridging the gap between his musical roots. Below, HARDY shares insight into three key tracks on the mockingbird & THE CROW. “wait in the truck” (feat. Lainey Wilson) “I’ve said this before, and I don’t mean this out of any disrespect, but Lainey is that girl. She’s the most authentic. I believe her voice when she sings [the song], that it actually happened to her—which it didn’t, thankfully. But she just becomes that person because she is authentically herself. I wanted that song to move people and help people get through a hard time. And I knew that her voice was going to be the voice that makes people believe it, which makes people relate it to themselves more. So it was always Laney. We talked about other people, but it was never going to go to anybody else.” “the mockingbird & THE CROW” “I have a little 15-foot jon boat that I [use to] go find arrowheads and stuff on the Cumberland River. I was on it one day and I was going down the river and I saw a crow flying through the sky, and I saw a mockingbird attacking it. You see that a lot. I just saw that as a sign and wrote down ‘the mockingbird & THE CROW.’ It didn’t register with me that it would be a perfect title for the record until I brought Brett Tyler and Jordan Schmidt out on the road with me and I played them all the rock stuff on my record. I told them the record was done, and they were like, ‘It can’t be done. We have to write a rock song.’ Then that’s when it all just sort of happened. Jordan and Brett, who are really, really smart guys and great lyric guys, we just dug into that whole concept and the song came to life that day.” “RADIO SONG” (feat. Jeremy McKinnon) “We’ve had that song cut for coming up on a year. I just know that now that the record is coming out, I have to explain myself and talk about it. There’s just such a formula to radio, for the most part. And obviously, great things can break through, but there’s a formula. And many, many, many times, 95% of the time, there does have to be a truck and there does have to be a girl and all that. So it’s just a little bit of sticking your tongue out at that. Our intention for that song was truly less making a statement and more of just it being fun. And everybody, come on, let’s all have a sense of humor about it, because we all are aware. Everybody should be in on that joke.”
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