Warner Brothers recording artist Michael Ray knows that one can never take anything for granted in the music business. That’s why the acclaim that critics and fans have given to his sophomore album, Amos, pleases him to no end.
“Putting out an album – or a single – and getting that gratification just makes you feel like you are on the right track,” the 30-year-old singer tells Billboard. “It takes a year and a half to completely finish a record, and your thought process is ‘I think we’ve got something good here.’ I hope people heard what we did in the middle of making this and will connect with it. You put it out there, and once it’s out, it’s out. To have radio and the fans be supportive of it and the new single, and have connections to it has been unbelievable. It’s in a way that I’ve never felt in this magnitude before.”
The new single he mentions is called “One That Got Away,” a uniquely upbeat twist to a song whose title sounds like it should about heartbreak. The track is stirring up a lot of interest for the Florida native, which he partially attributes to the fact that it’s a great summer song.
“When we recorded the song, I felt it was really in the realm of a feel-good groove, kind of like ‘Kiss You In The Morning,’” Ray says. “I haven’t had a song like that yet. When you hear it, it’s one that makes you think you’ve heard it before. The melody stays with you. Anytime you listen to it, it just kind of takes you away – which is what I want my music to do.”
Adding to the summer groove, Ray asserts that it could very well be the soundtrack to summer love as well. “It’s a story that I think everyone can relate to – a relationship where you’re thinking ‘I don’t know what’s going on with this or how long it will last, but I’m going to see what happens. If it ends, at the very least, it will be one hell of a story.”
While Ray may very well have a romance like that now – he and fellow rising country star Carly Pearce recently revealed they are an item – does the song bring anyone to mind from his past?
“This song is definitely one of those that I have lived,” he says with a chuckle. “I thought of someone where I kind of saw it coming, but I agreed to be a part of the ride. But, I think that everything in your life sets you up for where you need to be, and it’s all about the journey.”
The song has also made an impact already with listeners. “The fans have really been responsive to it so far. I’ve seen a lot of videos of them jamming to it on their phones, and it being that summer anthem for them. I’m getting a lot of those type of messages through social media, where they say ‘I’ve been there. I was the person that said ‘This is going to be one of those that got away, but I’m gonna ride it out to the end.’”
On the subject of summer anthems, Ray has some go-tos himself. “[Alan Jackson’s] ‘Chattahoochee’ was one for me that really embodied summer,” the singer asserts, adding that there was another artist who influenced him along those lines. “I was about 15 years old when No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems came out. I had the Kenny Chesney gear – the necklace, the hat, everything. That was the first album that really meant summer for me. I remember being with my buddies riding up and down the beach, and we would crank that whole record. That was our summer.”
“One That Got Away” was written by Jesse Frasure, Josh Osborne, and Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen. Ray – who doesn’t have a writer’s credit on Amos – says it doesn’t matter to him where a song comes from, as long as the quality is there.
“It’s not important at all to me. What is important is making the best album that I can,” he declares. “A lot of my heroes did write their songs, and I love writing, as well. I was going through a lot of changes between the first record and Amos, and all of a sudden, we had to get into the studio. Time slipped away from me. But when you have the best songwriters in Nashville, and they are sending you the songs that they’ve created, it’s an incredible feeling. I pitch my songs to myself just like anyone else, and if I write a better song than the one being pitched, great. But, if someone writes one that is better than mine – I think it’s my job and duty as an artist to the fans to put out the best music I can – whether I wrote it or not.”