By: Sam Corbett
After a three-month-long hiatus from being off-air, The Crossroads duo came back in a big way to begin March 2023. Zane and I reviewed HARDY’s much-anticipated album, the mockingbird & THE CROW. We hyped it up so much on air, only to be forced to wait nearly two months after the album dropped to voice our opinions on it.
HARDY, one of the fastest-rising stars in country music, released the album on January 20th after announcing it back in October 2022. The album is comprised of 17 songs that HARDY co-wrote and co-produced. It debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 and ended up topping the charts for Billboard in the Independent Album, Top Country Album, Top Hard Rock Album, and Top Rock Album charts.
The first eight tracks are stylized in all lower-case titles. These make up the first 30 minutes of the album. Some of HARDY’s best hits are on this side, the most notable one being “wait in the truck” featuring Lainey Wilson. Morgan Wallen is also featured on “red”. All of these tracks are considered more country than rock. A bit softer, slower, and more relaxed. Bobby Moore of Wide Open Country noted the typical stereotypes of country music (girls, trucks, beer, and dogs) in these songs.
The title track, situated at the halfway point in the album, is the longest song of the hour. It clocks in at just over five minutes. Here’s where HARDY starts playing 4D chess. The title track starts with him singing about how he is a mockingbird, acting just like everyone else in the industry. Then, halfway through the song, the tone changes. He embraces THE CROW. He’s loud, proud, and himself. He voices how he doesn’t want to be just like everyone else and how he wants to act like himself without being judged. The song then transitions to eight tracks that are a blend of nu-metal, rock, and country.
Whoa…meta. Halfway through the song which is the halfway point of the album, he shifts from being a mockingbird to a CROW. When I first realized this, my mind was blown. HARDY has said that the title track was symbolic of him trying to balance multiple aspects of his life in an internal struggle. He’s dealing with the big city but is a country boy at heart. He’s also labeled as a country artist and a rock artist.
We decided to feature the title track and two songs of the latter half of the album on our highlight – they fit our show’s sound WAYYYY better. We ended up picking “I AIN’T IN THE COUNTRY NO MORE” and “RADIO SONG” featuring Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember.
In the second featured song, HARDY sings about his adjustments to the big cities and flashy lights. He’s in an uncomfortable situation, but that’s not going to deter him. He sings “I’m damn proud of my roots/My Red Wing boots and my blue collar / This chip here on my shoulder is a town I can’t let down / Lord knows I ain’t no Jesus but I’ll proudly be the martyr / Spread the word about that nowhere place that makes the world go ’round.” Despite the weary lyrics, his tone shows that he’s not scared of what lies ahead of him.
“RADIO SONG” is anything but. It begins with HARDY singing about the aforementioned stereotypical topics mentioned in most country songs, before the song does a complete 180 and goes full screamo, which also features McKinnon’s growls. The whole message of the song is HARDY defying what label executives think a true “radio song” should sound like.
During an interview with Apple Music Country to promote the album, HARDY explained what the song was all about.
“I think the radio, there’s not a specific person, but there’s just such a formula to radio for the most part. And obviously, great things kind of break through, but like… there is a formula,” he explained. “And many, many, many times, 95% of the time, there does have to be a truck and there does have to be a girl. But our intention for that song was truly less making a statement and more of just it being like fun and ‘everybody, come on, let’s all have a sense of humor about it, because we all are aware.’… Everybody should be in on that joke.”
Overall, Zane and I both gave the album raving reviews, myself especially. I’ve been a fan of HARDY since I started my initial research in creating The Crossroads, and this album has been a staple of my music library since it dropped in January.
HARDY is set to be on tour with Morgan Wallen for a lengthy portion of 2023. The duo comes to Wrigley Field on June 22nd and 23rd for Wallen’s One Night At A Time Tour with ERNEST, Bailey Zimmermann, and Parker McCollum.