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No sophomore slump for country's Hunter Hayes

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Hunter Hayes had one wish for his sophomore album. "To avoid the 'sophomore curse,' he says.

The 23-year-old country star certainly did that. "Storyline," the follow-up to his platinum 2011 debut, hit No. 1 on the country charts after its first week on sale in May, as well as No. 3 on the Billboard 200, which Hayes considers "absolutely incredible." It spawned the Top 5 single "Invisible," while "Tattoo" is currently climing the charts. So, mission accomplished.

But Hayes wanted actually wanted a little more out of the album.

"I wanted to forget that it was the sophomore record; I just wanted it to be the NEW record," explains the Louisiana native, who co-wrote all 14 songs on the album and co-produced it with Dann Huff. "I tried to give myself more time than I originally thought I'd have (in order) to write as much as possible and not be rushed. I also wanted to avoid repeating history and just doing the same thing over and over -- an album with more band sounds and more opens sonic space. And more mandolin."

"Storyline" taught Hayes also learned quite a bit about making choices, too. He had more than 60 songs written for the album, a mounting of material for he and Huff to go through. And Hayes akncolwedges that wasn't easy.

"It's hard to narrow down anything," he explains. "It's much easier to trust the people around me who have been doing it for a long time. My goal is always just to write as much as possible and have a lot to choose from, or ideally TOO much to choose from and to evoke emotions with these songs even before they're produced.

"I've learned the best thing I can do is just go crazy, record as much as possible, try whatever comes to mind and not be afraid of trying everything, because at the end of the day I love looking at all of it with Dann, from his perspective, and making decisions from there. You never know until you try and I'm guilty of overthinking, so this 'splattering paint' process works best for me.

Hunter Hayes and the Railers

7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22

The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills.

Tickets are $47.50 and $34.50.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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