Sam Hunt: The New Sound of The South

I have a confession to make. I'm a hoarder. 

No, I don't have 16 years' worth of pizza boxes stashed in my closet back home. I just hoard music. That is to say, I like to find amazing music artists and keep them to myself, congratulating myself when they reach mainstream success and I can say I liked them first (Childish Gambino, I'm looking at you). But I'm breaking my rule today so I can share a little magic with you.

Meet Sam Hunt. 

Cute right? 

Sam just released his debut album, a country piece called Montevallo.  

Now if you say you don't like country, hold up, Sam might still be the guy for you. As a friend recently told me, Sam Hunt is country for people who think they don't like country. 

In Montevallo, Sam Hunt has managed to create a wholly unique sound. There's always been a tendency to striate southern culture into distinct, unflexing parts; hip-hop versus country, urban versus backwoods. But the south isn't and hasn't ever been so rigid. The culture is a fluid amalgamation of influences. Hunt's album expertly mixes the two in an honest, fun 10-song work. 

In short, Sam Hunt's Montevallo sounds like the South.

You're welcome.

Just in case his face and my argument aren't enough of a motivator, I've reviewed all 10 tracks below:

Take Your Time - A disarmingly earnest ballad about the guy you wish would walk up to you in a bar. He's got no expectations, he just wants to say 'hi'...forreal. It's also a perfect characterization of what to expect from the rest of Montevallo. Hunt combines a catchy hook and a series of sing-talked verses (a la Drake) to create one of my favorite songs on the album. 

Leave The Night On - Sam Hunt can write a hit. Of all the songs on the album, this is probably the one you already know. It was number one on country radio and in the top 30s on the itunes charts last I checked, and for good reason. "Leave the Night On" is delightful. It mixes a buzzy pop production with classic country vibes.

House Party - Another song from a guy you wish you were dating. "House Party" is a song about just having a good time, even when it's just the two of you.

Break Up In A Small Town - After listening to the first three tracks on the album, I'm not quite sure how anyone could break up with Sam Hunt but I'm grateful for them, whoever they are. "Break-Up," much like "Take Your Time," is another showcase of Hunt's urban influences. He does the Drake thing again and it just seems to make the song accessible, more painful. Not to mention the content is relateable. Breaking up in a small town seems eerily similar to hooking up at a mid-sized university...  

Single For The Summer - Ok, no guy is perfect. "Single For the Summer" is about exactly what you think it's about. I would roll my eyes every time the song came on if it weren't for the fact that it's so self aware. It's the musical equivalent of the guy who says "I know I suck" then shrugs, smiles, and hooks up with three more randoms. Annnnd I love it.    

I mean, come on...

Ex To See - You suck and he knows what you're up to. "Ex To See" is about that one friend we all know (or might even be...) who shamelessly uses a random to piss off the guy she can't get to care. It's mean, but it's cool. Sam Hunt gets it and he's going to make it work for him too. "Ex To See" is another instance of Hunt tapdancing in a variety of genres with its use of banjo, a drum kit, techno-y sound effects, even a clap track. Bonus points for genuinely using the word 'rascal'. 

Make You Miss Me - You've got committment issues, and he gets it, but that doesn't mean he's going to make it easy on you. "Make You Miss Me" is a bitter sweet promise: he's going to get you sprung and if you dare sabotage this, it's gonna hurt. One of the least "produced" on the album, "Make You Miss Me" is understated, kinda painful, and oddly sweet. 

Cop Car - If "Cop Car" sounds like you've already heard it, that's because you probably have. Keith Urban released a pop-yer version early this year. Plot Twist: Hunt wrote it. It's a unique, sweet ballad about falling in love in a less-than-romantic situation. 

Raised On It - "Raised On It" is a love letter to a southern upbringing and currently my favorite song on the album. It's more country pop and reminds me of the best Luke Bryan songs. Not surprising considering they're both Georgia boys. (#GAPride #YoureWelcomeWorld). Favorite lyrics: Mama's prayers and daddy's speech/Front porch philosophies/A little too young and dumb to see/Just what it all meant to me... #MyLife #JustYes

Speakers - Artists often say that albums are supposed to tell a story. I'll be honest. Sometimes I really can't see it. But I felt it when listening to Montevallo. "Speakers" is the last song on the album and at first glance, it's just another slow jam about making out. Great, but how does that tie up this whirlwind story of meeting and breaking up and partying til the sun comes up, Victoria? My answer, salty reader, is that it just does. "Speakers" is simple and intimate and satisfying. It's also a testament to Hunt's ability to write and deliver a structurally interesting song-By that I mean: just try to sing along to the end of the chorus without studdering. I dare you.

So check out Montevallo.

And if anyone from SUB or Legends reads this, please bring him to the Bend. I beg of you. 

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