HARDY Talks New Music, Wedding Planning and a Much-Needed Break

HARDY, Caleigh Ryan; Photo by Jamie Schramm, CMA
HARDY, Caleigh Ryan; Photo by Jamie Schramm, CMA
HARDY, Caleigh Ryan; Photo by Jamie Schramm, CMA

In 2021, HARDY was one of the hardest-working acts in country music. As he’s done each year since he broke onto the scene, he wrote a massive list of songs for other artists. He also collaborated with Blake Shelton on “Fire Up the Night,” Dierks Bentley and BRELAND in “Beers on Me” and Brantley Gilbert and Toby Keith on “The Worst Country Song of All Time” — all tracks he co-wrote.

Then of course, there was the release of Hixtape: Vol. 2, the much-expanded, elaborate follow-up to 2019’s Vol. 1. This time around, HARDY expanded his project into a 33-guest collection recorded across multiple studios and featuring a massive assembly of musicians and songwriters. For HARDY, who organized a large portion of the collaborations project and lent his voice or pen to a number of its songs, the Hixtape was a massive undertaking. Now that it’s out, he says, he’s ready for some much-needed downtime.

“I’m honestly just very much looking forward to a break,” the singer told Country Now in a recent interview.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by HARDY (@hardy)

What does a break look like for HARDY? If his social media is any indication, he’s blowing off steam by living out the real-life version of the friend-filled, backwoods fun he sings about in his Hixtape songs. Recent posts on the singer’s Instagram show him on a duck hunting trip in West Tennessee along with a pack of buddies, including Brantley Gilbert.

Back home in Nashville, though, there’s work waiting to be done. Now that HARDY has completed Vol. 2 of his Hixtape, he can look towards other projects, like his own next full-length solo album. His major-label debut, A Rock, only arrived in 2020, and it’ll likely still be a while before he drops his sophomore album. But if there’s one thing fans know about HARDY, it’s that when it comes to songwriting and putting out new music, he won’t slow down the pace for very long.

“I’m currently starting to put songs on hold, starting to think more about what record two is gonna sound like,” he says, when asked for hints about what lays ahead. “We’re not currently working on record two. I don’t know anything about it. It’s still in the idea process, but I’ve definitely written a few songs for it and we’re starting to talk about it now, yeah.”

HARDY; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
HARDY; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

At the same time, he’s turning his attention to another, more personal project: HARDY and his longtime girlfriend, Caleigh Ryan, got engaged in August 2021 after he popped the question during a visit to the Lyric Theatre in Oxford, Mississippi.

Sorting out the logistics of when and where they’ll tie the knot has been tough, HARDY admits, due to the couple’s hectic schedules. “Oh, God,” he responds with a smirking sigh, in response to a question about how wedding planning’s going.

“We have not picked a venue or date yet, and honestly, we’ve been trying,” he continues. “I’ve been gone every single weekend, and the only weekend I wasn’t gone was Thanksgiving, and I was in my hometown with my family. Caleigh works during the week, and so do I. It’s been really tough to go visit venues.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Still, they’ve managed to go tour about a dozen, and he hopes they’re getting close to finding the right spot.

“We have a number of guests that we really wanna have, and it’s gonna be really hard for us to cut back on that, and all the venues we’ve seen won’t hold the amount of people,” HARDY explains. “So it’s been tough, but we have a frontrunner right now, and I’m trying to convince everyone to pull the trigger.”

In the meantime, the couple have managed to find time for an engagement photo shoot, and both HARDY and Ryan have shared some of the stunning shots on social media. HARDY recently posted a set of photos, including a few photos of the two posing outside by the steps of an ivy-covered rock wall, and a couple more set in the Printer’s Alley area of downtown Nashville.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by CALEIGH RYAN🍋🍋🍋 (@caleighryan)

For her part, Ryan posted a spread of photos taken in downtown Nashville, atop a building and on the walkway of the city’s pedestrian bridge. In the photos, HARDY wears a black suit, while Ryan dons a jaw-dropping, floor-length red gown.

“I call this set: ‘Tell me you’re getting married in Nashville without telling me you’re getting married in Nashville,’” Ryan joked in the caption of her post.

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