21 is the new EP by Hunter Hayes, and is the direct follow up to his hit album Storylines. Similar to the last album, the new six song EP features a lot of good mood jams that will put a smile on your face and have you singing along. But even with the catchy, country-pop songs, there is a deeper message and theme behind the whole of 21. It’s about the whole experience of being young and twenty-one years old, experiencing the love and hurt and knowing that you have your whole life ahead of you. And whether you’re fifteen, twenty-one, or forty-one, if country-pop is your thing you’ll probably like this album.
The one thing that Hunter Hayes has going for him, if absolutely nothing else, is that he pours his heart out into everything that he does. You can feel the energy; you can feel his own emotions being translated into the songs that he sings. When you hit the third song on the album, “Young and In Love,” his voice perfectly translates the feelings and theme of the song. It doesn’t do it in just words, but in his inflections and in the instrumentals. They pair up in such a way that everything just fits, and gives you this perfect mental image of the story he’s telling.
One of the elements that made Storylines such a hit was that each song told a story, or formed together to form a story. The same can be said for this EP – except the whole of 21 is supposed to be a book, and each song is a chapter. The first song, “21” is about the joy of finally being twenty-one. The following song, “Where It All Begins” featuring Lady Antebellum is where you realize you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Including the seasoned artists that make up Lady Antebellum on that song in particular give the song even more weight – the words are that much dearer, because you have both the younger artist realizing he has his whole life ahead of him, as well as the older experienced artists telling him the same thing. The rest of the songs on 21 can be figured out for themselves, but you get the general idea.
Like any mainstream country superstar, 21 is full of the songs that will be playing nonstop for the next year. Instrumentally, the songs aren’t too different from what you would typically expect from a star like Hunter Hayes. It’ll play on the country top 40 radio, and blend in perfectly with all of the other songs. The fact that 21 is so similar to other albums of its genre might be the only thing wrong with this album. But even with it fitting right into the country-pop niche, it’s still unique, and it’s still got the Hunter Hayes trademark that makes it stand out – which is what makes it easy to look past the cliché and so easy to enjoy.