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New Hunter Hayes CD set lets listeners decide

Country singer Hunter Hayes has just released a new, three-disc CD set. The singer who rose to fame shortly after the release of his debut single “Storm Warning” in 2011 has released his newest collection of songs in a rather unique way.

With only seven songs, Hayes’ new album, “The 21 Project” contains three discs, bringing the total to 21. With each disc, all of the seven songs are brought into a new light. In studio, acoustic, and live form – the new collection truly showcases Hayes’ artistic abilities.

On the first disc, which opens with the rising party anthem, “21” fans receive a typical Hayes’ album. There are the obvious radio-ready single choices such as the song, “Suitcase,” which discusses the importance of love and relationships above all else in life.

The other, “Where It All Begins,” is a duet with country trio, Lady Antebellum. The song talks of a person who has started over and really seeks out the best in a new chapter of life. The first disc was produced by Hayes’ longtime producer, Dann Huff, who has worked with the singer on all of his previous material. The first disc only brings freshness with the fact it contains new material, but in no way does the first disc sway from anything Hayes has done in the past.

The second disc, breaks down each song with acoustic instruments. Each songs is presented with a Celtic like vibe. The country instrumentations truly shine through on this disc, stripping the songs of their original country pop coating.

Hayes puts everything he has out on the table for this disc. There is a raw emotion that highlights a feeling of personal vulnerability becomes apparent and is translated effortlessly to the listener.

This disc requires the fans to truly take in the songs’ lyrical messages. For fans of more traditional country music, this may be the disc that becomes the highlight of the package for them.

The final disc is a live disc. This disc gives listeners an idea of the energy Hayes may bring to the live concert stage. Many of the songs are introduced with lengthy instrumentals and several are taken out of their original form and given a whole new ‘electric’ life on this disc.

The live version of “21” includes several spots where he incorporates fan interaction. Hayes who is known for playing nearly every instrument, is given time to let that side of his musicianship show. Instead of performing, “Where It All Begins” alongside Lady Antebellum, Hayes takes on the song solo. Instead of enhancing the song with multiple voices like the studio version, the song is layered in several guitar solos when performed live.

“The 21 Project” comes as a result of Hayes’ digital experiment, which took place earlier this year. The entertainer took a risk which could have either torn down his steady career or taken him to the next level. The result proved to be the latter.

Hayes released a series of singles to the streaming service Spotify, instead of releasing them to digital retailers. As a result, one Spotify single, “21” was issued to country radio due to high fan demand, and has now broken into the Top 30.

The new collection is an additional risk as it has allowed fans to experience new music from an artist they enjoy. The twist is that the fans have the ability to choose which version suits them, the studio recordings, the bare acoustic sessions, or the energetic live set. In a time where the audience gauges the success of an artist, this release is a perfect experiment.

This type of release style could possibly be the next big hit among music makers. The power of musical style is now in the hands of both the fans and the artists. Gauging audience traction by revealing singles through streaming sites and then accommodating the listener by offering several versions of each song upon the street release.

An approach that has many fans pleased and will only benefit Hayes as he plants the seed for yet another fresh industry motive. As it stands, Hayes’ traction can only increase from here on out.

Should this be considered a proper third album, only containing seven songs? No, but it should hold fans over long enough to wait for a full length release from Hayes in 2016.

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