Walker Hayes‘ latest EP, Country Stuff, includes a few collaborations, including one with Carly Pearce. Hayes intentionally chose Pearce for “What If We Did,” even though they were just acquaintances when he asked her to join him on the track.
“I don’t really know her that well,” Hayes tells Music Mayhem. “When I had ‘You Broke Up with Me,’ she had just dropped ‘Every Little Thing.’ And so we kind of bonded over that and asked, I was like, ‘I really want a female who when they sing, you know who it is.’ And I feel like that is definitely true about Carly; she just sounds like a woman when she sings. There’s just wisdom in her voice, if that makes any sense, and life. So I was really, really excited when she agreed to be the feature on that song, ‘What if We Did.'”
Hayes is also joined by Jake Owen, on the title track of Country Stuff. The relationship between the two singer-songwriters goes back a long time, before Hayes even had any success in country music.
“Jake and I, we go way back,” Hayes reflects. “Actually, when I was working at Costco, he had one of my songs on hold about five years ago. And it ended up, he cut it. It was called ‘Song in Your Pocket.’ He cut it and it didn’t make the record. He didn’t owe me a phone call or an apology or anything, but he actually called me and said he was sorry it just didn’t make the record, and that meant so much to me. From then on I had always imagined us doing something together.”
It was Hayes’ producer, Shane McAnally, who reached out to Owen, who quickly agreed to be part of the song.
“He reached out to Jake Owen when I finished ‘Country Stuff’ and he was like, “Are you pitching this song to me? Or you want me to feature on it?” Owen asked. “‘Either way I’m in.’ So that was cool. He made so much sense on that song; it does sound like something he would cut.”
Country Stuff includes “Fancy Like,” a song that became a viral hit after an impromptu dance party with Hayes’ daughter Lela went viral on TikTok. Hayes penned the song with Cameron Bartolini, Shane Stevens and Josh Jenkins
“Josh from our conversation, just extracted the title, ‘Fancy Like,’” Hayes says on Apple Music Country’s The Kelleigh Bannen Show, “I swear to you, I am the slowest writer on earth. My brain is molasses. Like you say a word, and I’m like, ‘I got to think about it for a second.’ But this song just dumps out, like it already existed.
“And then Josh and I on the way home, we’re like, ‘Hey, I think it needs a bridge’ and just texted it out.,” he recalls. “I laid it down that night, and the next day, my publishing company wasn’t, I wouldn’t say split down the middle, but there were some people who were like, ‘This is crazy, but it makes me laugh.’ And then some people were like, ‘This is the biggest song I’ve ever heard.’”
Lori McKenna also appears on Country Stuff, on a song called “Briefcase.” Purchase the album at WalkerHayes.com.