Ryan Hurd found massive success with 2018’s “To a T,” the lead single off of what would, three years later, become the country singer-songwriter’s debut album, Pelago. Hurd makes good on that three-year absence, delivering an LP that plays to the strengths shown on that early single: sultry lyrics heavy on wordplay, radio-ready hooks, and vocals that land somewhere between a soulful rasp and a poppy twang. Opening track “Pass It On” is a laidback ode to sharing life’s kindnesses, big or small, originally written for Hurd’s wife, Maren Morris. Morris joins him on “Chasing After You,” a smoldering ballad about the kind of love you just can’t quit. “You dream about this moment your entire life,” Hurd tells Apple Music. “This is the only job I’ve ever wanted since I was 11 years old. So, thinking about somebody who’s listening to my debut album, I hope it’s something that they can listen to from top to bottom and find something that they can see themselves in.” Below, Hurd walks Apple Music through several key tracks on Pelago. “Pass It On” “‘Pass It On’ is a song that I wrote with Maren and HARDY and Jordan Schmidt. Originally, we were aiming for Maren’s album, and as we were writing it, we all kind of figured out that it sounds like a guy should be singing this song. It’s unabashedly positive, and I think the message is something that will be very welcomed by people in the times that we live in. And I just think the song is really fun and great, and I love that Ilya Toshinsky is in the first moment you hear, asking, ‘How country do you wanna go?’ It just feels like it fits.” “Chasing After You” (feat. Maren Morris) “I think the only reason that we get to do a full-length album is because of ‘Chasing After You’ and the success that it’s had. You always hope that a song that you put out is a hit, but to see it actually happen is really incredible. And getting to work with Maren—I knew that having her be a part of this song in an official capacity, that’s a big ask of any artist, and especially one whose career you very much need to continue going in the right direction. It wasn’t something that I did lightly, and I don’t take for granted how special that is having her being a part of it. I’m more relieved, I guess, that she’s on it and it wasn’t a massive flop.” “June, July, August” “I feel like, especially in the Eastern part of the country, spring break or spending a week at the beach is very common, no matter where you live. I grew up on the water in Michigan, and I grew up going to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, with my family. It was such a huge part of my life, and it still is, but this sort of feel-good nautical theme that I have running through this whole album is just something that felt really natural for me. And not wanting summer to be over—the older I get, the harder it is every single year to say goodbye to it.” “Tab With My Name on It” “I feel like it is a very cinematic version of a song that’s been written a lot in Nashville. I think that just seeing the range of emotions that one person can go through missing somebody, even in one night, I loved being specific with that. And I loved seeing this person come in and out of hope. It’s not something I see myself in as much as you might think. That song has a huge string section attached to it, and I just felt it added to the cinematic quality of the song and really made it hammer home what we were trying to get across emotionally.” “Hell Is an Island” “That’s Maren’s favorite song on the album. I love titles that sort of explain the whole thing. ‘Hell is an island without you’—I mean, that’s just a poem in itself. I think that even in the most beautiful place in the world, if you’re not there with the right person, it doesn’t matter.” “I Never Said I’m Sorry” “It really is, I think, a special emotion to say, ‘I don’t regret moving on, but I regret the way I did it.’ And I’ve had that emotion a handful of times, whether in my personal life or professional life. And I’ve had to go back to people and say, ‘I’m sorry that I did that.’ Not ‘sorry if I hurt you’ kind of shit; it’s, ‘No, I’m really sorry that I did that to you.’ To me, the songs that go together the best on the whole album are ‘Pass It On’ and ‘I Never Said I'm Sorry,’ because I think those are extremely human emotions that we don’t talk about enough: being unabashedly positive not just for its own sake, and then actually apologizing to people.” “To a T” “I imagine this album to be tracks one through 11. So, it starts with ‘Pass It On’ and it ends with ‘I Never Said I'm Sorry.’ But the cool part about releasing music right now is, digitally, it can be whatever the hell you want it to be. And so, putting it out on the streaming version or the digital version, I feel like if you listen to this album top to bottom, and if you’ve never heard of Ryan Hurd, it’s a really great representation. Then, if you get into the extra songs that are a little bit older, you get some context as far as who I am and where I’ve come from and my entire musical journey. So, ‘To a T’ was my first-ever gold single. And that was my only goal when I signed a record deal. Looking back on that song, it’s such a huge part of my journey, and it got me to ‘Chasing After You,’ which got me into Pelago. So, I don’t think you can tell my story without including that song.”

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