Album Review: Hardy - "A Rock"

Introduced to the country music world through playful songs like "Rednecker" and a whole "Hixtape" collaborative mixtape, Hardy's debut album arrives and showcases where country music is going.

Most mainstream country music fans familiar with Hardy (if they’re familiar at all), recognize his name from writing credits for other artists, which include Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton. However, A Rock may be many folks’ first formal introduction to Hardy (real name, Michael Wilson Hardy), the solo artist. This strong 12-song set suggests Hardy won’t be a just an album credit for long.

This album’s title cut evidences why Hardy is one of today’s go-to, A-list songwriters. Each verse presents the song’s title in a different, yet wholly appropriate context. It begins as the rock a kid skims across the water, before becoming the other side of a squeezing hard place. It also showcases great stellar country songwriting’s underrated intelligence. This song was well thought out when Hardy penned it (to the point of purposely not having a true repeated chorus - Ed.).

The album’s title song is not the only gem to be admired, however. One breakup song called “Boots,” begins: “I woke up in my boots this morning/Fell asleep in my boots last night.” Yes, cowboy boots symbolize the country lifestyle; but these lines could have mentioned any footwear. The poor guy was so depressed, he didn’t even have the energy to take his boots off. You also have to love “Unapologetically Country As Hell,” which treats the popular country pride topic with a sense of humor. “Boyfriend” shows how Hardy can write a straight-up relationship song. Usually, being the boyfriend means freedom from the commitment of marriage. However, in this case, this character only sees the downside to having a steady girlfriend.

Vocally, Hardy is also unapologetically country. He sounds a little like those Florida Georgia Line guys, only smarter. Based on the songs featured on A Rock, if there’s any justice in this world, Hardy is destined for stardom.

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