At 22, Hunter Hayes isn’t one for subtlety on his sophomore album: His up-tempo songs ("Tattoo," "Storyline") race with breathless rushes of lyrics and fast, busy arrangements; his ballads are intensely dramatic, whether he takes on self-esteem (the Top 10 country hit "Invisible") or the mysteries of attraction ("Still Fallin’ ").
The Grammy-nominated star is following up his successful self-titled 2011 record by once again co-writing, co-producing and playing several instruments on "Storyline."
To his credit, Hayes avoids contemporary country clichés: There are no pickup trucks, dirt roads or beer drinking in these songs. Still, even though the opening "Wild Card" boasts that he’s a crazy guy, he could benefit from loosening up and showing some of that wildness on record.
Hayes is an inventive country-pop songwriter and performer. He is striving for something more distinctive than radio hits; he wants to inspire, to create something spectacular. "Storyline" doesn’t quite fulfill that ambition, but fans will find the collection entertaining. And there’s enough to suggest that the multitalented boy wonder still packs plenty of potential.
Mchael McCall, The Associated Press
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