Storyline

Hunter Hayes' single "Invisible" is an anomaly on today's country radio – the rare song that treats high school as something more than a golden age of bonfires and first kisses. On his second album, it sits in the middle of 14 tracks with clean arrangements and twangless vocals that could carry the singer-songwriter beyond country radio altogether. The Barenaked Ladies-style speak-singing of "Tattoo" might play with contemporary adults, and the optimism and harmonies found on tracks such as "Wild Card" sound like they could someday turn the 22-year-old artist into a genuine pop star – but only if he outgrows his belief that in order to be serious, you have to be humorless, too.

From The Archives Issue 1208: May 8, 2014