Ryan Hurd - EOM EP
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EOM EP (RCA Nashville, 2020)

Ryan Hurd

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

Ryan Hurd may well end up being the biggest musical thing out of Kalamazoo, Mich. (does anyone remember The Verve Pipe?) without anybody's help. So far, he's carved out a mild hit for himself ("To a T") and secured a deal with a big label who have high hopes. Hurd's sizzle factor grew exponentially when he married country superstar Maren Morris in 2018.

The idea of this almost-an-album (seven tracks) is - mostly -- a slower take on songs that Hurd had some hand in writing. And it's acoustic, except for the ones that aren't. Oh, and the songs Hurd helped pen have two to five co-writers. Are you confused yet? The main thing to know is that Hurd is a dyed-in-the-wool romantic. He's aiming for your swooning heart and will ride whatever arrangement gets him there - unplugged guitars, orchestral strings or joining The Cadillac Three to burn down the house ("Payback"). Listeners craving theme or musical consistency, take note - that's as far as he'll meet you.

The EOM in the title is the single "Every Other Memory." It's essentially an Eric Church song, with all the rhythmic and vocal elements except for Church himself. And while the "stripped" edition is nice, the nostalgic lyrics already had plenty of sweetener. Seek out the full-band version for this song's fullest expression. The Taylor Swift cover "False God" is a very unusual choice - it's a deep cut off the "Lover" album, without a big melody or hook. Hurd taps into the R&B synth bed without overdoing it and wrestles Swift to a draw on who wore it best.

The best songs are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the big catches for other artists. Luke Bryan's "Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset" does take a little more intimacy in this package. And, while Hurd can't outsing Lady A, "What If I Never Get Over You" has feeling for days. The closer is a live track (because at this point why not) "Wish for the World" - Hurd's love for everyone gets flowing, and it serves as a pleaser of a country-fried benediction. Ultimately, this record is a bit of a mess with its all-over-the-place approach (let's now mention the five different producers!) to such a small collection of songs. But Hurd's heart is in the right place.


CDs by Ryan Hurd

EOM EP, 2020


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