Ray looks to "Dive Bars & Broken Hearts"
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Ray looks to "Dive Bars & Broken Hearts"

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 – Michael Ray is in the studio putting the finishing touches on his upcoming six-song EP, "Dive Bars & Broken Hearts," due June 23 on Warner.

This will be Ray's first release since the 2021 EP, "Higher Education." He has had hits with "One That Got Away," "Whiskey and Rain," "Think a Little Less" and "Kiss You in the Morning."

"I took some time to really think about what I wanted," said Ray, who's spent the last year balancing road shows and songwriting appointments. "When you strip it all back, think about what really matters to you, you cut away a whole lot of reasons that should never drive your music."

"I'm a kid from central Florida, raised singing at the Sunshine Opry, playing Froggers, turning it up when Jones, Hank Jr. and later Montgomery Gentry hit the dial. I like the ones who hit their country straight up and hard. I knew one guy who makes that kind of country, Michael Knox."

Known for his work with Jason Aldean, as well as Hank Williams, Jr., Montgomery Gentry and Thomas Rhett, Knox produced.

"The more we talked, the more I knew he understood where I came from," Ray said. "My kind of country doesn't come from TikTok or a tv show, it's all those straight up country singers who knew life doesn't always turn out like you think, but you keep going. I'm from a family of EMTs, cable-splicers, first responders; they had to get up and go to work, no matter what was happening, and when they got home, they reached for the music, whether they were going out with my grandpa Amos to watch him play, or some band they were playin' in."

"That's a whole different way to do this, and Michael got it. Just like he knows how dive bars and broken hearts are a lot like George Jones songs and steel guitars. They go together."

To mine that '80s/'90s edge that had captured Ray's ear growing up in the rural part of the Sunshine State, Knox brought in members of Aldean's touring band, Tim McGraw's lead guitarist Adam Shoenfeld and Kenny Chesney guitarist/utility player Danny Raider. Ray sang with the tracking band on the several songs.

"Good ole boys grow up to be pretty good men," Ray said. "Taking time to really think about what I wanted to say, writing some and listening to a whole lot of songs, I realized people aren't singing about what happens when you go from wild-eyed kid to anything other than a settled down husband and young father. So, this is country for the rest of us, for kids who only really listened to country music, who know their Gilley from their Conlee or their Conley, and we're out there!.I can't wait to get some of this out there for people who love this kind of straight up country."

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CD reviews for Michael Ray

Michael Ray wanted his latest EP to bring back a sound before country stars came from game shows and viral videos. While it's definitely slicker than any classic country record (which nowadays means '80s/'90s), it is a good one. The theme of the day is pairs - those that match and those that don't. "Spirits and Demons," a duet with Meghan Patrick, is a standout. It's a powerful gospel about the whiskey that ain't workin' to heal the broken heart. ...
Michael Ray's sophomore album, "Amos," is a tribute to his late grandfather. He expresses his appreciation on the insert with a lengthy and heartfelt bio of their special relationship. Though not explicitly stated, Ray infers that he learned that he would be best served by staying in his own lane. In this case, holding down the front man role while leaving the songwriting duties to the likes of Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally and Luke Laird and Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three. ...
CD review - Michael Ray The big single from Michael Ray's self-titled album, "Kiss You in the Morning," is one of the most annoying songs of the summer. It's an unbridled lust lyric that describes one man's pursuit of a girl in a country song. Ray is better on the driving song, "Drivin' All Night," though. Maybe it's the fact that Ray name-drops both Steve Earle and Tom Petty on it. If only Ray's music were more like either Earle or Petty. The both of these men create ...

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