Sunday, 7 August, 2011 1:39 PM
CMA New Artist Spotlight: 'Walker
by Kristin Barlowe
country music artist Walker Hayes
2011 CMA Close Up News Service
There’s no shortage
of deft writers and entertainers in Nashville.
What nudges Walker Hayes
slightly ahead of the field is that his music makes him seem like
somebody you’d like to know as much as listen to.
This is clear on his
first EP, produced by Marshall Altman, with all four tracks slated
for his upcoming debut album, Reason to Rhyme. Each performance
creates an impression that this young artist greets life with a
grin on his face and maybe a sly joke in his heart.
Some of that was evident
even in Hayes’ childhood, when he had no qualms about conducting
an imaginary orchestra for fun and no problem dividing his routine
between macho sports and the arty school choir. He met his future
wife Laney in high school when they starred in “Little Shop
of Horrors.” Years later, a newcomer in Nashville, he took
advantage of an opportunity to appear at a writers’ night
at the Bluebird Café by playing two standards.
There was a reason for
that last oddity: Despite gigging in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.,
and earning a general music degree with a piano emphasis at Birmingham-Southern
College on his way to further study at the University of North Carolina,
Hayes came to Music City with almost no songs in his writer catalog.
But yard work and busking on Lower Broadway bought him time to sharpen
his skills, land a residency at Puckett’s Grocery and finally
earning a deal from Capitol Records Nashville by singing on some
demos pitched to Keith Urban.
On his first single and
video, the good-time, Dobro-sweetened “Pants,” and the
dramatic/romantic ballad “Naked,” both written by Hayes,
his humor emerges through clever wordplay. But on these tracks,
as well as his second single “Why Wait for Summer,”
which he wrote with Fred Wilhelm, there’s enough substance
to suggest that Hayes will be teasing smiles from fans for years
IN HIS OWN WORDS
LOVE TO COVER
“‘Mr. Tanner,’ by Harry Chapin.”
BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
“A notebook, for ideas that come in the middle of the night.”
“The ones I eat in the morning.”
FAVORITE MODE OF
DREAM DUET PARTNER
“My wife, but she'll never do it. She has stage fright."
On the Web: www.WalkerHayes.com
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