Michael Ray, $35
303 BerryFest Place
Michael Ray loves a good story. So, it’s only natural that when it came time to tell his own, he gravitated to country music.
“I feel like in music in general, but especially in country music, the storylines have always been the foundation,” he says. “No matter what changes may happen with the sound, I feel like when you listen to a song, no matter what walk of life you come from, you can really lose yourself in that song and put your own story to it.”
The small-town Florida native began to tell his tale on his 2015 self-titled debut album and scored two number one hits with “Kiss You in the Morning” and “Think a Little Less.” His dynamic sophomore album, Amos, named for his late grandfather and produced by the legendary Scott Hendricks (Alan Jackson, Faith Hill, Blake Shelton) picks up where that record left off, combining the vintage sounds he absorbed growing up with a contemporary polish that puts him at the forefront of a class of fresh young voices.
Ray runs the emotional gamut on Amos, from vulnerable ballads to boot-stomping rockers, showcasing a musical and vocal dexterity he has long admired in heroes like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.
The album spawned his third No. 1, “One That Got Away,” an optimistic mid-tempo smash that turns heartbreak into the fondest of memories, and the imploringly poignant first single “Get to You,” a heartfelt plea for making a relationship work that utilizes Ray’s impressive vocal range, moving from a ruminative baritone to a tender falsetto croon. “Her World or Mine,” the album’s latest single and its emotional centerpiece, breaks down the universal emotions of a break-up in heartbreaking and incisive detail. He turns up the tempo and the temperature with the pithy rocker “You’re On” and offers a slinky slice of wordplay with the whimsical “Fan Girl,” giving “Amos” a diverse feel that retains a cohesive whole.