HARDY // The Mockingbird & The Crow // Album Review
Many Southern sky moons ago a certain Michael Wilson Hardy took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee with no other intention than to have a good time gander at the world capital of country rock excellence. Upon realising he could do what he did best on a platform that rewarded greatness HARDY was born. With three albums, two extended plays and a plethora of charted singles now under his whisky-whipped belt HARDY releases his sophomore album, The Mockingbird & The Crow.
Released through Big Loud Records, the seventeen-track listing is banked to enthral physical copy buyers and his six million monthly listeners alike. A delightful rove immersing us in HARDY’s country suave as well his rock-edged roots that have previously captivated the scene with equal excited anticipation.
Opening with ‘Beer’ we dive right into a straight-down-the-line country music good timer. With a title like that it can go either way but HARDY grabs us by the hand and guides us into his world of upbeat over-licks and words to pair with a cold brew.
‘Red’ featuring Morgan Wallen brings us back down a notch with dirt track warmth. (I ain’t talking politics/ I’m talking small town/ If you’re from one/ you know what I’m talking about.) HARDY hasn’t lost the intimacy he holds for his fans, removing the big-time glitz and glamour and offering us a hot mug of familiarity.
With two of his ‘Hixtape’ albums based purely on the theme of collaboration, it’s not surprising to see him feature a few big names on ‘The Mockingbird & The Crow’. ‘Wait in the truck’ featuring Lainy Wilson hosts her smooth vocals on this story track with a fine gospel end. ‘Drink one for me’ continues in this first quarter emotive endeavour. With the acoustic breaks and title chorus hail, it’s hard not to imagine this being played at the end of the night through tears and smiles. ‘I in country’ brings similar sentiments (there ain’t no ‘I’ in country/ but there’s a ‘y’ ‘o’ ‘u’ ‘).
‘Screen’s’ chorus hits a little harder, ushering in a hefty drumbeat beneath smatterings of attitude-laden lead guitars. Back into country territory with ‘happy’ before ‘here lies country music’. The former showcases HARDY’s talent for clever lyricism (’happy spends most his time/ banging on the door of most folks’ mind) and the latter harvesting a classic country pedal steel charm.
The title track ‘the mockingbird & THE CROW’ has been explained by HARDY as representing his country side (the mockingbird) and his rock roots (the crow). Here we hear what has got to be the absolute highlight of the record. At 2 minutes 19 seconds with one note HARDY switches into head banging hard rock in a way I’ve never heard before. This album just went from good to down right prodigious.
If you need lessons on how to show two completely different sides of your musicality in an inspiringly seamless way then give this guy a call. ‘Sold Out’ screams out to us with a size twelve stomping energy. For the guitarists ‘Jack’ features a heavy set, finger wound solo which cranks up the distortion both on the amp and in your ears.
‘TRUCK BED’ (I woke up on the wrong side of the truck bed this morning/ with a bone dry bottle of jack eyes pouring) features country words against a nifty produced beat track putting a chart twist to the record which is nothing if not versatile. Following on ’30-06’ has a slight pop punk tinge to it.
‘I AIN’T IN THE COUNTRY NO MORE’ puts you right on that mountain top singing at the top of your lungs whilst the earth spits out hard rocking chugs and epic snare slams around you. The guitar sounds, arrangement and vocals verge on being full blown metal.
‘RADIO SONG’ featuring Jeremy McKinnon is a mind bending, genre mix-mash with a surprise at every turn. Who says you can’t play country music and metal scream with unmatched joy-shock value in the same damn song. The plot twist we didn’t know we needed but now can’t get enough off.
We finish things off with the hard rocking, electric beat ‘KILL SH!T TILL I DIE’ (If it ain’t loaded better rack one/ Need a bloodhound better track one) and finally ‘REDNECK SONG’. Coming full circle back to that country rock shake with a title that’s pretty self-explanatory. Think downtown Nashville bar sing-along with a whole lot of punch.
An absolute 10/10 listening pleasure. HARDY hits harder than ever before and my goodness, once you’ve heard this you will just want, need and yearn for more. Whilst there seems to be no plans to visit the UK soon, I really do hope he makes the jump across the pond to give us a live taste of what is no doubt sure to be a chart topping album.
The Mockingbird & The Crow is out Friday, Jan 20th Courtesy of Big Loud Records
Review: Monty Sewell
Pre-order / pre-save the mockingbird & THE CROWhere.
the mockingbird & THE CROW Track List:
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) *
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)
All songs produced by Joey Moi
All songs co-produced by Derek Wells and HARDY
* co-produced by David Garcia
^ co-produced by Jordan Schmidt
+ co-produced by Ben Johnson
~ co-produced by Andrew Wade, Jeremy McKinnon, and Cody Quistad
ABOUT HARDY: Big Loud Records’ heavy hitter HARDY has never been just one thing. Uncaging his next chapter on January 20th, 2023, HARDY will introduce the mockingbird & THE CROW, his dichotomous, 17-track sophomore album and the follow up to 2020 debut, A ROCK. HARDY is the reigning ACM Songwriter of the Year and two-time AIMP Songwriter of the Year, additionally nominated for New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Musical Event of the Year at the 2022 CMA Awards. One of CRS’ 2021 New Faces of Country Music and a two-time CMA Triple Play award recipient, the pride of Philadelphia, Miss. has earned his reputation as “a breakout in the making,” (HITS) and “a promising purveyor of keeping the spirit of classic heavy Southern rock alive” (American Songwriter). HARDY has written 12 #1 singles since 2018, including his own double platinum #1 single “ONE BEER” feat. Lauren Alaina + Devin Dawson, and chart-topping Dierks Bentley + BRELAND collaboration, “Beers On Me.” He’s previously toured with Thomas Rhett, Morgan Wallen, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Cole Swindell, and more, and will embark on his own SOLD-OUT headlining Wall to Wall Tour this winter.