"They all felt like they should be part of the original record," Hayes said of the new songs.

This week, Hunter Hayes celebrated the release of Encore, a new collection that revisits his 2011 self-titled debut and adds eight new or re-recorded songs. Encore dropped Tuesday (June 18), the very same day he played to a sold-out crowd at New York’s Webster Hall.

Hayes sat down this week with Radio.com to discuss the decision to revisit his debut with new songs, as well as how his new duets with Ashley Monroe and Jason Mraz came together.

“They all felt like they should be part of the original record,” he said of the new tracks. “The more we recorded them and spent time with them, it was a very interesting revolution. It is all a part of that early chapter, that original record chapter. To hold it for something else would have been dishonest. Putting [the songs] on this record helped me keep the evolution of what’s going on right now without moving ahead too quickly and rushing into the next record.”

Hayes recorded the new tracks for Encore in January while he had a month off. He said the process was very relaxing and a much needed recharge.

“I think I needed a good little reset to rethink some things and the studio is the perfect place to do that because there is no agenda,” he said. “There is no right or wrong answer. You can spend days in the studio and scrap it and then start from scratch again. We approached those songs with a certain kind of intent. I wanted to complete the thought on this record and so we did.”

Ashley Monroe of Pistol Annies shares the mic with Hayes on beautiful ballad “What You Gonna Do,” and he had only praises for the singer, citing her as having a “timeless, iconic sound.”

While the entirety of Tuesday’s show was full of screams, it was “Wanted,” “Love Makes Me” and particularly, current single “I Want Crazy” that hinted at Hayes’ star power. Hayes explained that the title for “I Want Crazy” came to him before the song did.

“‘Crazy’ was just my way of saying, ‘That’s real love. When you feel like you’ve gone crazy. That’s when you’ve actually gotten something right,’” he said. “I don’t want the ‘We can make this work,’ ‘Sure, OK, it’s good.’ I incorporated this long distance aspect because, boy I can speak from experience on that stuff. It was just a confessional way of saying that’s what I’m looking for.”

– Annie Reuter, Radio.com

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