Country star Michael Ray is set to release his highly-anticipated new EP, Higher Education, on August 27. The seven-track collection will feature his Top 25-and-rising lead single “Whiskey And Rain,” “Picture” and the newly-released autobiographical song, “Just The Way I Am.”
Ray’s announcement of a forthcoming EP arrives after over a year of the Warner Music Nashville artist readying new music and teasing the collection as a return to his 80’s and 90’s country roots.
“I’ll never forget that time in my life when I was fresh out of high school, working a trade I expected to do all my life—splicing cable—and Amos, my grandfather, recognized how much I loved writing and singing Country music,” the Eustis, Florida native recalls. “He said, ‘You can either look back and say ‘Damn, I wish I would have,’ or ‘Damn, I’m glad I did,’ and the latter is a whole lot easier to live with.”
“With that, my band and I made the move to Music City. [For] the next five years I leaned on the insanely talented writers, musicians and touring artists I knew, and the five-plus after that I have leaned on this town. I am proud to know them the way I do, to have learned from them, and for them to know me.”
Of Higher Education, Ray says the EP will be “about going through life and the hard knocks that make you who you are…coming out of it stronger, having let it change you without hardening you. This album,” he adds, “reminds me that even though we all go through hard times, we grow and we’re better for it.”
Released last Friday (7/30) with Ray’s announcement, “Just The Way I Am” is an up-tempo life anthem that celebrates the singer’s personality and the various traits that make him the man he is today. From “being the kinda guy that likes a simple life,” to loving others selflessly, and to not running away from fights because he’s “got too much pride”—listeners will get to know the 33-year-old better both through the song and its accompanying music video.
“[‘Just The Way I Am’] really feels autobiographical for me. It touches on the good parts of people while still acknowledging that they have faults and flaws, myself included,” the singer/songwriter reflects on the track, which was penned by hitmakers HARDY, Ben West and Josh Miller. “I relate to it so fully that it feels like I could have written it. I hope that when fans hear it, they understand more about me and maybe even relate to it themselves.”
Ray has been out on the road for his Just The Way I Am 2021 Tour, which will wrap in the fall at the Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Fans can get tickets to see him live at MichaelRayMusic.com.
High Education EP Tracklist:
1. Whiskey And Rain (Josh Thompson, Jesse Frasure)
2. Just The Way I Am (Michael Hardy, Ben West, Josh Miller)
3. Holy Water (Ashley Gorley, Hunter Phelps, Ben Johnson, Michael Hardy)
4. Picture (Michael Ray, David Garcia, Michael Hardy)
5. Higher Education feat. Kid Rock, Lee Brice, Billy Gibbons and Tim Montana (Tim Montana, Derek George, Jeremy Bussey, Monty Criswell, Frank Rogers)
6. Live Without You (Michael Hardy, Jessi Alexander, Corey Crowder)
7. Didn’t Know I Was Country (Michael Ray, Taylor Phillips, Ashley Gorley)