“I was on tour opening up for Kelly Clarkson and watching from the front-of-house when I heard an incredible performance that stopped me in my tracks,” Maggie Rose tells American Songwriter. The year was 2019 and the performance that moved Rose so deeply came from a still-unsung rising star: Dylan Hartigan.
For those in the know, you might recognize Hartigan’s name from NBC’s The Voice—in 2018, he was on Team Kelly for the show’s 14th season. After it wrapped with Hartigan placing in the top 24, Clarkson took Hartigan on the road with her… which led to him getting to sing his song “Stop Look and Listen” that fateful night when Rose was watching from the front-of-house. “His charisma and capabilities as a vocalist drew me to him,” she remembered. “I knew he was special immediately.”
And now, thanks to Rose’s help, Hartigan is finally getting to release “Stop Look and Listen.” Coming ahead of the debut album, The Way My Bones Creek—which is due later in 2021—the single dropped on May 7.
“I was playing this song at a Kelly Clarkson concert in Allentown, Pennsylvania,” Hartigan said, recounting the story from his point-of-view. “A lovely young lady by the name of Maggie Rose—who was opening for Kelly—happened to hear it and seemed to fall in love with it. After that, I got invited to open for Maggie’s tour in California. When all that went well, we recorded this album in Nashville.”
It’s true—with Rose’s frequent-collaborators, Them Vibes, backing him up, Hartigan teamed up with producer Bobby Holland (ZZ Ward, Drake White, Sean McConnell) to bring his visions to life. Raised on a solid diet of classic rock greats—ranging from The Doors to Bob Dylan to the Allman Brothers Band—“Stop Look and Listen” hits a special spot, sounding akin to something like “Melissa” or “I Shall Be Released.”
While that has a lot to do with the song’s chord progression—a trusty ol’ I – ii – iii – ii—part of what makes the single reminiscent of those classic hits is its sentimentality. Songs like “Melissa” and “I Shall Be Released” capture a certain poetic sense of serene longing, even in the face of hardship.
“Life is about finding these small yet powerful moments of calm,” Hartigan explained. “And ‘Stop Look and Listen’ was born from that need for calmness. At a time when my life was turbulent with almost no end in sight, it gave me the ability to slow down and breathe. It’s a turbulent time and things aren’t standing still right now… steady pace seems like a necessary evil in the common world, but sometimes to truly see what’s around you, you need to stop. You must take moments to focus on your senses, to live. I want my fans to relate to that. I just want a whole lot of self-love to come out of this release.”
And with praise coming in from Clarkson, Rose and many more, there’s a lot more than just “self-love” for Hartigan and his tunes. The fifth proper single from the 25-year-old songwriter, it makes sense that “Stop Look and Listen” has endured the past few years without losing the magic that made Rose fall in love with it back in 2019. With a retro feel, modern lyrical sensibilities and Hartigan’s bluesy voice, the song about taking a pause captures something pretty appropriate: timelessness.
Dylan Hartigan’s debut album The Way My Bones Creek is due later in 2021. Listen to its single “Stop Look and Listen” below: