One listen to “Michigan For The Winter” is about all it takes to get a handle on Ryan Hurd and his unique approach to country. It’s set in the Midwest, instead of country’s stereotypical South. It’s a song about personal retreat and reflection, instead of the usual big summer party tune. Hurd loaded the lyrics with cinematic, scene-setting images and delivers it with a grainy vulnerability, longing to rekindle a broken relationship but perfectly capable of moving forward alone. And with that song, the world gets to know Hurd, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter whose brand of country is just a sliver outside the norms of Music Row.
A rough-cut romantic, he’s simultaneously amiable and distant, respectful and edgy, commanding and supportive. There’s a lot of complexity wrapped up in Hurd, who’s balanced his budding Sony Music Nashville recording career with a songwriting portfolio that includes hits by Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. Hurd didn’t necessarily set out on that path – getting his name on theater marquees was not his original intent – but by following his inner voice, he’s become a Next Big Thing contender, lauded by the likes of Rolling Stone Country, Pandora, VEVO, CMT and Esquire while making the rounds of some of music’s iconic showrooms: The Troubadour in Los Angeles, the Bowery Ballroom in New York City and The Exit/In in Nashville, just for starters. “I kind of have already done everything in country music, and I'm still a brand new artist,” he says with a profound appreciation. “I've written hit songs, I've been to all the awards shows with Maren Morris, and I've gotten to tour with Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line. It's sort of like I've already experienced what it means to be an artist in Nashville.”