Country music fans are already familiar with HARDY, who has written hits for artists like Blake Shelton, Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line, but they're about to learn a whole lot more about him with the release of his debut album, A Rock, out on Friday. "A lot of hard work has gone into it," Hardy told PopCulture.com for our series PopCulture @ Home. "I'm just happy that it's finally out in the world, and that everybody just gets to hear kind of what I have to say this go-around."
Hardy's current single, "One Beer," previously appeared on his 2019 mixtape, Hixtape, and he recorded four songs for A Rock in December, which left seven tracks that needed to be completed during quarantine. He got the job done, putting together a 12-song project introducing listeners to all sides of himself, from the party-loving country boy to a thoughtful romantic ready to settle down.
"I've had a couple of EPs, and I did Hixtape, but this is my like real statement piece," he shared. "I'm excited to kinda be alone on this one and just to see what people think of just me and like my project alone."
The Mississippi native's sound has evolved with each of his projects and is now a stadium-sized blend of country and rock, a mix that came naturally to Hardy thanks to his upbringing in the country and his love of rock music.
"I grew up listening to rock and roll, and ever since I started putting out music, there's always been a sense of a big rock and roll edge to my music, and that's really important to me," Hardy explained. "That's who I am as an artist. That's my influence. And I grew up country, but I grew up listening to rock and roll. So it's kinda the marriage between those two. And this record is just even further in that direction of, it sounds like a rock and roll record, but it's country music. It's country lyrics and country content."
"I love country music, and I love that being accepted in the country's genre," he added. "And I do think that it's very much country, but there's a whole lot of rock and roll influence in there."
In the vein of classic country, A Rock is made up of vividly painted stories, from Hardy's secret wish that his girlfriend will feel differently about her hometown in "Hate Your Hometown" to the moment he couldn't afford to buy a woman a drink at the bar, which inspired "Broke Boys." One of A Rock's standout tracks, "Give Heaven Some Hell," details the loss of a friend, and while that isn't an experience Hardy has personally had, he knew it was a lyric he wanted to share.
"This is the first kind of record that shows a lot of vulnerability," he noted. "'Give Heaven Some Hell' is about losing a friend and kind of, your hope that they're up there doing all right. And 'Boyfriend' is kind of a statement about wanting to get married. You know, 'Boots' is about getting kicked out of your house. And there's just a lot of songs that are a little more vulnerable, and that's something that I haven't necessarily done much. And so, I just hope that people know that I'm capable of having feelings like love, and sadness, and I don't always just wanna party all the time, even though I kind of do, but you know what I mean."
You can stream A Rock here.