His sophomore studio album, the 17-song half rock, half country record called themockingbird & THE CROW, is out everywhere today, and it’s everything I hoped it would be.
Full of great songwriting in both genres, that is both funny and insightful in a lot of ways, he delivers an honest and authentic tracklist of songs that are the personification of who Hardy is to his core… and that’s exactly what he hoped it would be, too.
In a previous post on Instagram, he explained in more detail what it means to him:
“I’ve had this idea for a long time, called ‘the mocking and the crow.’Just about how, the dichotomy between the two, and all my life I’ve always driven down the road and you see like a crow flying through the air and you see a mockingbird, like peckin’ at the crow. And I’ve always wanted to write that idea.”
Up until recently, he’s mostly been known as Morgan Wallen’s friend, who co-wrote hits like “Sand In My Boots,” “More Than My Hometown,” and “This Bar,” just to name a few, but Hardy is a million percent his own artist, and I think he’s going to only continue to bend genres and make the music he believes in.
This feels like one of those career-defining records that will, once and for all, prove that Hardy is both the mockingbird and the crow he sings about in the title track, and that’s pretty damn cool, if you ask me.
Meaning, he’s both the country-lovin’ boy from Mississippi who came to Nashville with a dream to change the game, and also, a rock-lovin’ guy who doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about his style of music or how he’s gonna do things.
If there’s someone out there who can’t relate to the concept of being torn between different aspects of who you are and what you’re expected to be, I haven’t met ’em yet…
From the second this album was announced and I heard he was going to take a unique approach to the whole process, I was intrigued, because I know how good he is at finding the gray area in topics and getting to the heart of it, with a really creative approach and interesting lyrics.
He says he believe it’s his best writing yet and perfectly describes “who he is as an artist”:
“I am extremely excited to have this record out.
I truly believe that this is two years of my best writing and think that it perfectly describes who I am as an artist, having grown up listening to rock ‘n roll, but also grown-up country.
Thank you to everyone for the support and everybody for working so hard on bringing this record to life. I hope everyone enjoys it.”
While this project definitely won’t be for everyone, I personally love that he’s pushing boundaries in an industry where that feels harder and harder to do, and I think it’s so cool that he’s putting it out on a major label like Big Loud.
Hardy’s laying it all out on the table, and you can take it or leave it… but I’d suggest giving it a fair chance, pulling up a seat, and staying a while. I think this record deserves that, whether it’s one you keep on repeat forever or not.
You’ll find that a lot of my early favorites actually come from the rock half of the tracklist, and mostly it’s because I find it’s the better, more creative songwriting and interesting stuff on the project.
With a full rock production, Hardy sings about the things that make him country as hell, to quote a song from his debut record, and I really can’t say I’ve ever heard anything exactly like it before.
He does it tastefully, and of course, he’s proven he can write a hit, so it’s an incredible culmination of the best elements of who he is as an artist and person.
And because I know you’re here for the music, let’s get into it…
This one’s features Jeremy McKinnon (founding member and the lead vocalist of A Day to Remember), as they sing about the cheesy “checklist” requirements you have to have in the lyrics to get a song on country radio.
To be sure, they make it known this is certainly not that song, and in typical Hardy fashion, there’s a lot of great wordplay and funny jabs at the Nashville machine that I absolutely love.
These lyrics are country as cornbread… and the production almost reminds be of early 2000’s rock that I still love.
His girl took off in his truck, thinking it would be one final way to get back at him as they ended the relationship that wasn’t working, because he was spending too much time hunting.
She knew his automatic was in there, and laughed all the way to the pawn shop knowing he’d never get it back, but what she doesn’t know is, Hardy’s got “a backup under my bed.”
There’s a fun reference to his song “SOLD OUT,” too, which has her figuring out he has more guns and can keep hunting when she “sees another dead buck on my Instagram”:
A solo write by Hardy, he admits that he hasn’t been able to find happiness in a while, and acknowledges that he’s been doing some things wrong in his life which have separated him from who he used to be… and not for the best.
This is Hardy’s writing and creativity at its abolsute best. He talks about all the things we miss out on because of “a good-for-nothing cellphone screen,” and how he longs for a life where he doesn’t have to look at one all the time.
Ultimately, he just wants to be living in the present, “watching the storm somewhere from a chair just staring through a back porch screen.”
Go ahead and preach…
“the mockingbird & THE CROW”
I think the title track is still at the very top of my list, though. It’s a perfect blend of both genres, and both sides of Hardy, that I think every person on the planet can relate to in some way.
It’s really work of true art, in my very humble opinion.
While I’ve only gotten to listen to the new record a few times over so far, and I’m sure some of my favorites will change as I get to know the songs more, one thing is for sure in my mind…
Hardy is completely uncaged, and he’s certainly going to continue to carve out his own path… the way the crow flies.
the mockingbird & THE CROW Tracklist
1. beer (Michael Hardy, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps)
2. red feat. Morgan Wallen (Michael Hardy, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, Jacob Rice)
3. wait in the truck feat. Lainey Wilson (Michael Hardy, Renee Blair, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt)
4. drink one for me (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps)
5. i in country (Michael Hardy, Smith Ahnquist, Nick Donley, Jake Mitchell, Hunter Phelps)
6. screen (Michael Hardy, Jessie Jo Dillon, Matt Dragstrem, Hunter Phelps)
7. happy (Michael Hardy)
8. here lies country music (Michael Hardy, Cole Taylor, Brett Tyler, Will Weatherly)
9. the mockingbird & THE CROW (Michael Hardy, Jordan Schmidt, Brett Tyler)
10. SOLD OUT (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps)
11. JACK (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey)
12. TRUCK BED (Michael Hardy, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps)
13. .30-06 (Michael Hardy, Cameron Montgomery, Hunter Phelps)
14. I AIN’T IN THE COUNTRY NO MORE (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey)
15. RADIO SONG feat. Jeremy McKinnon (Michael Hardy, Zach Abend, Nick Donley, Jeremy McKinnon, Cody Quistad)
16. KILL SH!T TILL I DIE (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps)
17. THE REDNECK SONG (Michael Hardy, Andy Albert, Nick Donley)