Hunter Hayes appeared on the Today show on Wednesday (Aug. 14) to announce his fourth studio album, Wild Blue (Part 1) and also released the title track to YouTube.

The new material is more experimental than fans might have heard from Hayes previously.

“I gave myself the right to make the record that I didn't think anybody would ever listen to,” Hayes tells Billboard about the upcoming album, which will cover his recent heartbreak.

Wild Blue (Part 1) will be the first record in a planned trilogy of albums. The album will feature ten songs, which Hayes finished recording in June, according to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper.

Earlier this year, Hayes revealed that he scrapped more than 100 songs for the upcoming album. Initially, he was set to release an album in February of 2018 before he decided to shift gears musically.

"My priorities shifted and rather than just putting out a conventional album, which was hard for me to come to that realization because I really wanted to, I think a lot of things happened at the right time," Hayes explained. "And by the grace of God, I was able to look around and say, 'This is not the time to release a record and this is not the record I want to release.'"

Hayes reveals to Billboard that he recorded most of the new album in his new Nashville home, a place he calls his "safe house."

The new album title came from his love of aviation.

"I remember vividly when I was a kid picking up somebody to go to the airport and they said, 'Off we go to the wild blue yonder,'" he says. "For some reason, it's always stuck in my head. I’m obsessed with aviation [and] with flying. It was a combination of freedom and all of my friends tell me about these flying dreams that they have when they're going through a massive life change. And so I was manifesting everything I could to give me a flying dream…So I loved wild blue because there's so much that that meant to me and the color blue has always been my favorite color."

Wild Blue (Part 1) is set for release on Friday (Aug. 16).

Hunter Hayes' Wild Blue (Part 1) Track Listing: 
1. "Madness" (Hunter Hayes, Sam Ellis, Sara Haze)
2. "Wild Blue" (Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges, Gordie Sampson)
3. "Heartbreak" (Hunter Hayes, Thomas “Tawgs” Salter, Gordie Sampson, Simon Wilcox)
4. "One Good Reason" (Hunter Hayes, Sam Ellis)
5. "Dear God" (Hunter Hayes, Andy Grammer, Dave Spencer)*
6. "Loving You" (Hunter Hayes, Jordan Reynolds, Dave Barnes)
7. "My Song Too" (Hunter Hayes, Jordan Reynolds, Dave Barnes)
8. "One Shot" (Hunter Hayes)**
9. "Night and Day" (Hunter Hayes, Derrick Southerland, Sam Ellis)
10. "Still" (Hunter Hayes, Troy Verges, Tommee Profitt)^

Produced by Hunter Hayes and Sam Ellis
* Produced by Hunter Hayes and Dave Spencer
** Produced by Hunter Hayes
^ Produced and Engineered by Hunter Hayes

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