After much anticipation, HARDY has dropped the entirety of his sophomore album, the mockingbird & THE CROW, via Big Loud Records.
Getting a glimpse of the project through these new songs allowed fans to prepare themselves for the masterpiece that would unfold before them. The collection equates to half country music and half rock music, giving HARDY the opportunity to showcase his diversity as an artist in both genres.
This unique format also allowed him to explore the creative depths of his sound while demonstrating his impressive songwriting skills.
“It definitely was more freeing, but at the same time, I definitely want people to know, although it’s half of a rock and roll record, it’s also a little bit of my take on, maybe my spin on country music as well,” HARDY told Country Now and other outlets.
He added, “It kind of opened the door for, obviously, doing the rock and roll thing, but it also opened the door a little more wide open for me to kind of give my own rendition of country music or like throwing a very country lyric over a rock and roll sonic, you know, production, if you will.”
The title track distinctively serves as the transition between the genres as it hones in on the project’s roots and creates a steady balance of HARDY’s talents. When asked about the process of choosing the title for the record, HARDY referred back to the familiar experience of driving down a country road and witnessing a mockingbird attacking a crow. This minor observation in nature remained in his back pocket for some time, waiting for the perfect chance to evolve into something great.
Over the summer, that moment came. At the time, HARDY had thought the record was complete and ready to move into the next stages, but one thing was still missing – a title. So while on the road with songwriters Jordan Schmidt and Brett Tyler, they collectively decided to add just one more song, which would throw a wrench into his plans, but ultimately be the missing piece to pull everything together.
“It all just kind of came together in that moment and I said, ‘I have an idea that could end up being the title for this record if we wrote one more song, but it would have to be like a seven, six, or seven minute song,’” he explained. “I had this idea called ‘The Mockingbird and the Crow,’ so then we talked through the whole thing and about how ‘the Mockingbird’ would be the songwriter’s side and the countryside…and then ‘the crow’ and all that. We ended up just writing the whole song that day.”
In addition to his latest releases, the 17-track project also features his current chart-climbing country single “wait in the truck” feat. Lainey Wilson, his rising rock single “JACK,” his fan favorite, “TRUCK BED,” and plenty more.
Each song was co-written by HARDY with one of the critically acclaimed songwriters listed, except for one titled “Happy.” Not only does this song act as the only solo write for the country star on the whole album, but it’s also the first song he’s written on his own since 2013.
“I had been wanting to try to get one by myself, just to know that I still could. I was driving to the golf course one day and I had this weird idea about personifying the word ‘happy’ and turning happy into a person. I just had some kind of wheels turning and later that day when I went home, I sat down at my computer and I started writing the song and I just couldn’t stop,” HARDY recalled.
“I’m really, really proud of it and I’m really proud that I was able to write one by myself. I hadn’t done that in a long time and I think I wanna do it more in the future,” he added.
While we don’t get to experience too many love stories among the hard-hitting production and daring soul searching, HARDY did add a bit of his heart with the track “i in country.” It might not be directly about his wife, Callie, but the song does convey a sentimental theme that is present in their relationship.
“You know, it’s funny cause she’s a California girl and she grew up in San Diego, so she’s not by-the-book a country girl, but I think what the song preaches is that, I know how to do a lot of things in this life, but what’s the point of doing that if I don’t get to share that with somebody? And that’s sort of the message that it conveys, and I really feel that way with her.”
When it came time to choose the sequence and to split the songs up between each half, it all started with his song, ‘’JACK.” HARDY revealed he wrote this rockin’ tune about two years ago and that was followed by a country song. This trend continued into his next set of writes and eventually, it led him to creating a 50/50 collection that firmly represents his identification as an artist.
“They kind of kept going back and forth until it naturally snowballed into this like, oh, we could do like a 50/50 thing. Then, I needed like a couple of more songs from both sides and that’s when I kind of started going into rooms and being like, ‘Hey, we really need to hammer down a rock song today.’ Or ‘I’m really missing a good country song.’ And we kind of started nitpicking a little bit more, but for the most part, it happened pretty naturally,” he shared.
The project comes two years after he unveiled his debut album A ROCK. the mockingbird & THE CROW was recorded between Ocean Way and Blackbird Studios in Nashville and produced by Joey Moi. In addition to being a co-writer, HARDY also served as a co-producer with Derek Wells. The other songwriters featured in the credits include Ashley Gorley, Rhett Akins, Hillary Lindsey, Jessie Jo Dillon, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt, and more.
HARDY revealed that he will “absolutely” be incorporating his newest songs into his live set. He wrapped up his headlining Wall To Wall Tour in December and in February, will launch his next headlining trek, which completely sold out just 10 days after tickets went on sale to the general public.
Named after his new album, this 16-date tour is set to kick off on Feb. 16, 2023, in Indianapolis, IN before wrapping up on April 29 in Irving, TX.
He will receive support from both genres with country artist Jameson Rodgers and rock band, Blame My Youth.
Fans can purchase the exclusive the mockingbird & THE CROW box set here.