By all indications, Hayden Baker seems like a major label artist. He frequently opens for main-stage performers like Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen and Randall King; he’s notched two singles in the Top 40 Texas Regional Radio Report; and, in the last five years, he’s released two full-length albums and supported both with headlining tours. But don’t be fooled.
Since he first entered the new music airwaves in 2018 with his introductory LP, Born in The Wrong Generation, Baker has been completely independent. Born, raised and based in Texas, he’s fueled a self-sufficient career through his fierce work ethic, musical talent and knack for writing songs redolent of ‘90s-era country with a modern spin. Now, shortly after his latest EP, Growing Pains, hit 1M streams, he’s gearing up to drop his third album, Barely Gettin’ By, in April. The title speaks to his lifestyle as a solo artist.
“It’s a record that speaks to my life right now,” he says. “I’m out here cutting my teeth, playing Honky Tonks on the road, flying back and forth between Texas and Nashville and doing the whole independent artist thing. It’s the culmination of a lot of work over the past few years.”
On December 1, Baker dropped the album’s second single, “Is It Cold in Oklahoma.” Sung in second person to a lover who’s miles away during the holidays, the country-western ballad could be registered as a modern-day version of “Blue Christmas.” Throughout the tune, Baker plucks a nylon guitar and croons the plaintive lyrics as swooning steel guitar and fiddle give the song a Golden-era country style.
“I wrote the song when I was living in College Station,” Baker recalls. “My girlfriend was getting her master’s degree at Oklahoma University at the time. She mentioned it was snowing up there, and said something like, ‘it’s cold in Oklahoma.’ I was like, ‘hold that thought.’”
Baker quickly called his friend and longtime collaborator, Jacob Doucet, and they co-wrote “Is It Cold in Oklahoma.”
“Man, it is, George Jones, Keith Whitley, steel-soaked country music,” Baker comments. “Key change and all.”
Fans can expect more classic country flavor in Barely Gettin’ By. Between now and the release, Baker is set to drop three more singles, with the first slated for January 12. In the meantime, listen to “Is It Cold in Oklahoma” below, and if you’re in Texas, check here to see if he’s coming to a city near you.
Photo by Gabriel Muniz