In honor of his new album Storyline, which hits stores Tuesday (May 6), Hunter Hayes is our Launch artist this week.

Storyline is Hayes’ second major-label studio album, after his platinum-selling 2011 self-titled debut. That album produced three No. 1 hits for Hayes: “Wanted,” “Somebody’s Heartbreak” and “I Want Crazy.”

Where Hunter Hayes was a solo album in the truest sense (Hayes played every instrument on the album and sang every vocal track himself), Storyline is more collaborative. For this album, the Louisiana native and four-time GRAMMY nominee chose to feature his touring band on the album, along with steel-guitar maestro Paul Franklin.

As Hayes told in a recent interview, Storyline is “a series of songs that talk about life and love and just writing the storyline as we go.”

Musically and lyrically he sees it as “a continuation” from where he was on his previous album, but “it’s a deeper conversation, too. I always said that for this record I wanted higher highs and lower lows — I wanted it to be more emotional. And I think in going for more emotion, you have to go deeper into soul, right? You’ve got to be vulnerable, you’ve got to be convicted. You’ve gotta be really, really deep on this stuff. And Storyline was the journey to find whatever that was going to end up being.”

Hayes mentioned a handful of tracks that’s he especially excited about, including “Wild Card,” “Tattoo” (“a really fun one”) and “If It’s Just Me,” which he called one of the “weirder” songs and “just very different from anything I’ve ever tried before.”

It’s the title track, though, that he said “kind of defines me in a way. And musically it sounds like everything I hear in my head all day long. And lyrically it’s pretty honest, it’s pretty representative of my own philosophy. You just go through life writing your story as you go. There are wrong ways to write it, there are right ways to write it, but there is also all kinds of stuff in-between. The path you choose leads you to different adventures, and that aspect of figuring it all out really fascinates me.”

The album’s lead single is “Invisible,” which Hayes first revealed in a live performance on the GRAMMY Awards this past February.

Related: How Hunter Hayes Scored a GRAMMY Debut for New Single ‘Invisible’

“Invisible,” Hayes told, is “about essentially feeling outcast.” And for him, he said, that meant “being a music nerd, a music geek — somebody who doesn’t really fit in otherwise.”

The song, he continued, is aimed at those who’ve spent much of their life “feeling like the things that make you different are bad,” and turning that around. In other words, “going from seeing that as a bad thing to seeing that as something that means a great deal to who you become and the things that shape your dreams.”

“I felt really driven to share the story,” Hayes said, because “I’ve been lucky enough to see both sides of it.”

Where once he was a self-described “geek,” now music has given him “a place to fit in. And it’s important to share that if you do stick to your dreams, and you do believe in yourself and who you are and the things that make you different, they make your life beautiful. They change your life for the better.”

On the whole, Hayes said that when comparing Storyline to his previous album, the “most critical way” to define the difference between the two is that the new album is “more intense.”

He laughed. “I don’t know if I meant that,” he said quickly. “I wanted that…I think. I wanted more energy. And I think we got it. The fun stuff is way more fun, and the depressing stuff — the really dark and serious stuff — is really serious.”

And in the end, he said, he’s “really pleased” at how it turned out “musically” and “how much ground we covered that I really wanted to cover.”

And also how much searching was involved in the process. Because, as Hayes explained, “it’s all about the search, no matter what you find. And it was a fun search.”

Hunter Hayes Storyline track listing:

1. Wild Card (Hayes/Laird/Dean)
2. Storyline (Hayes/Verges/Paslay)
3. Still Fallin (Hayes/Pierce)
4. Tattoo (Hayes/Verges/Dean)
5. Invisible (Hayes/Baker/Elam)
6. …interlude (Hayes/Baker/Elam/Dean/Buckmaster)
7. You Think You Know Somebody (Hayes/Ellis)
8. Flashlight (Hayes/Verges/Dean)
9. When Did You Stop Loving Me (Hayes/Ellis)
10. …like I was saying (jam) (Hayes/Ellis)
11. Secret Love (Hayes/Ellis)
12. Nothing Like Starting Over (Hayes/Verges/Sampson)
13. If It’s Just Me (Hayes/Baker/Elam)
14. Love Too Much (Hayes/Ellis)

Hunter Hayes Storyline album cover art(Courtesy Warner Music Nashville)

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