Album Review: Michael Ray
If you listen to country radio religiously, then you’ve probably heard the song ‘Kiss You In The Morning’. No, this song isn’t sung by your household name country singers like Luke Bryan or Kenny Chesney. The vocals behind the catchy tune belong to rising star, Michael Ray.
After being mentored by John Rich and winning CMT’s The Next, Ray wanted to learn everything he could from the country superstar. Rich took Michael under his wing, and introduced him to tons of important people in the industry, which would eventually lead him to his record deal with Warner Music Group.
The self-titled debut album by Ray was released August 7th and has since been sitting very nicely in the top 5 of the iTunes country charts right behind Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, and Zac Brown Band. But, what makes this album different than the others on the charts? It could be the rocker-country vibe some of the songs give off; It could be the brutal honesty of the lyrics; It could also be the fact that not only is he very vocally gifted, but he’s got the smile that could immediately sweep any girl off of their feet. Whatever the reason, this album is an absolute winner.
The first track on the album is the single that started the hype that follows Ray, ‘Kiss You In The Morning’. It kicks off with a really strong guitar riff, that immediately catches your attention followed by some heavy drums keeping the beat easy to keep up with. It’s the type of song listeners can jam out to while hanging out on the beach with their friends or getting ready for a night out on the town. ‘Another Girl’ drops some of the ‘hang-out’ vibe and showcases more of Ray’s rocker energy with heavy electric guitar riffs. The song is about one girl who completely submerges herself in the element she’s in. It’s almost as if she has become someone else. The other two more upbeat songs on the album are called ‘Livin’ It Up’ and ‘This Love’. A head-bobbing beat and a smooth-rockin’ rhythm create a sense of spontaneous adventure and excitement for the song that is all about just that: living it up with your friends. ‘This Love’, which is one of our favorites on the album, is a little more fast paced than the rest but doesn’t stray far from Ray’s signature sound. This would be the perfect song to add to your workout playlist.
‘Look Like This‘ introduces Ray’s medium tempo tracks, which are all incredibly haunting and meaningful, but still have a bit of a kick to them. This track show cases Michael’s booming lower register, which is somewhat reminiscent of Jason Aldean’s ‘Tonight Looks Good On You’. ‘Run Away With You’, which was actually made popular by country duo Big and Rich, was co-written by Michael. By making the song his own, it’s almost like you’re listening to a completely different track. ‘Drivin’ All Night’ and ‘Somewhere South’ both highlight the different depths of Michael’s vocal abilities. Different runs are almost strategically placed throughout the songs, to keep the listener wanting more. ‘Drivin’ All Night’ has more of the ‘I miss my special someone’ message, whereas ‘Somewhere South’ talks more about being away from the place you call home.
Finally, every successful country album is equipped with the ballad-esque songs, that make you swoon weak at the knees just thinking about those situations happening to you. ‘Real Men Love Jesus’, is one of the more unique sounding songs on the album. The track not only recognizes and celebrates the good guys out there, but musically, it brings you back to everything you love about about country music. ‘Think A Little Less’ and ‘Wish I Was Here’ both keep the classic country music feel going, but are given a modern day twist with the lyrics. ‘Everything In Between’ is another emotional song, that describes the emotional connection you still have with someone, after they break your heart.
Overall, the album is a very strong introduction of Michael Ray as an artist. As Michael’s career unfolds, we see nothing but success for him.