New Capitol Nashville artist and Mobile, Alabama, native Walker Hayes hits country radio with “Wax Paper Cups,” a refreshingly calm track that boasts a breezy melody and warm, sweet vocal. Hayes has a soothing southern drawl and conversational way of singing that really meshes well with this “let’s chill out beneath the stars” song.
Who doesn’t love a cold Icee on a hot summer night? There’s something very earthy and real about this track, and I think it plays well as a counterpoint in a format that’s currently filled with a lot of aggressive, loud singing. I love how quiet this is, and how Hayes never pushes too hard or tries to make this record bigger than it should be. His performance is restrained enough to let “Wax Paper Cups” be the sweet, tidy and fully effective vignette that it is.
While “Wax Paper Cups” has a chance to do very well at radio, however, Hayes has a tough road ahead from here on out. This track feels like a one-off change of pace for the format; there’s no way any singer can stay on today’s country radio with music this mellow, and that means that at some point he’ll have to deliver something with some kick.
Trouble is, it’s just hard to hear Hayes singing the kind of songs the format is going to want him to sing. His just isn’t a voice made for country pride songs or party anthems. Listen to the songs on his MySpace, and you’ll see what I mean—“Naked” fits firmly in the pop singer/songwriter arena, while “Pants” just sounds like a stretch for the format, both musically and lyrically.
On each of these tracks, Hayes demonstrates that he’s a real talent, armed with a fresh sound that dips into southern rock and blues influences.
It just doesn’t have much synergy with mainstream country.
Here’s hoping “Wax Paper Cups” does well enough to give him a platform from which to build his career. He’ll never have a better chance to win his way onto country radio’s airwaves.