Song Review: Keith Urban Hunter Hayes, “Yesterday’s Song”

Seriously, are you sure this isn’t just Keith Urban in a Hunter Hayes costume?

Truthfully, I’ve always felt Hayes was a criminally-underrated artist who gets more attention for what he isn’t than what he is. Instead of marveling at the fact that this guy can play thirty freaking instruments, for example, we deride him for being small and looking like a 14-year old. Hayes’s musical output suffers from a similar lack of respect (he hasn’t cracked the Top 10 in country airplay since 2013), which may be why he copied Urban’s style for “Yesterday’s Song,” Hayes’s debut single for his upcoming album.

You’ve got to give Hayes and his team credit for going as far as they did. The guitar tones match Urban’s perfectly, and Hayes is one of the few people who have the chops to match Urban’s skills. The driving beat and rollocking guitars bring to mind Urban’s “Days Go By,” and the energy the production brings fits the mood of the song perfectly.

The lyrics don’t set the world on fire, but they’re clever enough to get the job done (my personal favorite is “I spun that record ’til it turned on me”). The narrator of the song is experiencing the freedom obtained by letting go of an old memory, and Hayes brings enough feeling to the table to make the song believable, acknowledging the good times while still looking forward to his new life. All together, the words and music make you feel the excitement of the track right along with Hayes..

The only problem with Hayes emulating Urban to this degree is that it calls extra attention to the places where the emulation falls short. For example, Hayes is a decent vocalist in his own right and can mimic Urban’s tone right down to the classic ‘woo-hoos,’ but he doesn’t quite have the smooth delivery that Urban does, and thus he struggles with some of the rapid-fire lyrics and comes off sounding slightly awkward.

Overall, while I’m not a huge fan of either Urban or Hayes, I’m really digging this tune. I wouldn’t mind seeing it gain Hayes some much-traction on the radio…even if people think it’s someone else singing.

Rating: 6/10. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a Keith Urban fan who was less than impressed with his last record.