Ryan Hurd is a name that is starting to appear everywhere following the release of his self-titled EP. Having established himself as a songwriter, writing hits for Tim McGraw (Last Turn Home), Lady Antebellum (You Look Good) and Dierks Bentley (I’ll Be the Moon) to name a few, Hurd signed an artist deal to write and record his own music. Of course a lot of people new to his music know him as Maren Morris’ fiancée, something he embraces as seen in the video to his new single Love in a Bar. This week Hurd made his first trip over to the UK supporting Morris on her Hero tour and I went along to O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire last night to check him out.
Having sat down for a chat with Hurd a couple of hours prior to his show, I was interested to see him take to the stage. At this point, aside from the songs he’s written for other artists, there’s only been his 4-track EP to go off in terms of becoming accustomed with his music and sound. Hurd opened the set with the atmospheric Chasing After You, which led straight into the uptempo We Do Us, one of the standout moments on the album.
The set list for the evening included all four tracks from his EP along with his versions of Last Turn Home, which he wrote for Tim McGraw, and You Look Good, which he wrote for Lady Antebellum. You Look Good was one of the highlights of the set and dare I say that I preferred his version to Lady Antebellum’s? That song has so much energy and attitude, and it suited him down to the ground. I kind of wish he’d kept it for himself!
The autobiographical Michigan showcased a more sensitive side of Hurd while Hold You Back injected plenty of soul into Hurd’s sound. Love in a Bar is one of the tracks that got the biggest reaction from the audience. The personal song tells the story of how Hurd fell in love with Morris and it’s a sweet tale that makes for a great song. The set came to a close with City Girl, a moody track that has a real anthemic feel as the chorus soars.
Vocally Hurd sounded superb throughout his set. His voice has a really nice gritty sound to it that could easily lend itself to rockier material, should Hurd choose to go down that root at some point in the future. As a performer there are times he looked a little bit awkward but I actually found that pretty endearing. Hurd did admit to me earlier that he never expected to be a recording artist himself after starting his career as a songwriter. He worked the stage with a laidback swagger that was enjoyable to watch and the more he performs, I’m sure he’ll relax into it a little more.
I really enjoyed Hurd’s performance. As an artist I find him exciting with plenty of potential and as a songwriter he is a master of his craft. He lays his heart on his sleeve with his music and the fact he’s a lovely, humble guy proves he’s a passionate artist with a lot to offer. Hurd is the real deal and I can’t wait to see him rocket to global success in the coming months.
Set list: 1. Chasing After You 2. We Do Us 3. Half Hoping 4. Hold You Back 5. Michigan 6. Last Turn Home 7. You Look Good 8. Love in a Bar 9. City Girl Performance date: 15th November 2017