Artist: Sam Hunt
Release date: October 27, 2014
Label: MCA Nashville
Genre: Country pop
Montevallo is the debut album for country music artist Sam Hunt, whose songwriting skills were featured on several country stars’ songs, such as Keith Urban’s Cop Car and Kenny Chesney’s Come Over.
First thing’s first, Hunt may be the very definition of a modern country man. His use of electronic synth arrangements and palm-to-knee slapping rhythm makes him immediately stand out from other male country music artists who choose to have a more traditional sound. His music is unlike any other in his genre and his contemporary look on “what is country” is definitely featured on the album. It’s also interesting to note that Hunt co-wrote every track on the album.
Montevallo may sound a bit “typical” for a first time listener. A majority of the tracks featured on the album are in some way about a woman and leaves a lot to be desired regarding Hunt’s diversity as an artist. While some of the songs feature a generic approach to the characteristic “country song about a woman”, Cop Car, for example, has a different way of expressing his feelings towards a woman which proves to be a nice touch to the album.
Hunt has his own unique sound which makes him stand out from other country artists. The catchy lyrics and quick-paced dynamic use of instruments in his debut single Leave the Night On dare to appeal to those who aren’t typically fans of country music. The pop-inspired hit would fit comfortably on the Country Music Channel as it would on MTV. Leave the Night On has a typical “bro-country” theme to it (country songs by men about getting drunk, girls in tight jeans, etc.) however it has its own charming appeal that’ll make your fingers tap and your head bop, and not roll your eyes and mutter “It’s just another country song”.
The way he mixes normal speaking with an outburst of song in Take Your Time and Break Up in a Small Town is an odd touch to his album, and I’m not too positive that’s a good thing. It kind of sounds like a musical where the character is engaging in dialogue and then randomly busts out into song and we, as an audience, are expected to think that is completely normal. It’s a unique twist to the typical song format, and for that, I applaud him for trying something new. However, these tracks that would otherwise be great listens with deep, emotive lyrics and a great sound, are mainly outstanding for the wrong reasons.
An interesting track to make note of on Montevallo is Single for the Summer; it’s probably the only track on the album that doesn’t have any typical country music traits to it: there are no mentions of drinking beer in the lyrics, and the quick strums of an acoustic guitar are also absent. This song has an almost dreamy sound to it with an electric synth-like sound and a slow, fading ending that makes you feel as if you are gradually dozing off to sleep. This daring track doesn’t seem fitting for a country-pop album but happens to be one of the best songs on the album for the sole purpose that is something very different that Hunt has tried and subsequently nailed as a music artist.
Overall, Montevallo is a step in the right direction for Sam Hunt that can be easy listening for all sorts of people, ranging from diehard country music enthusiasts to mainstream pop music fans and anywhere in between. His unique twist on modern country-pop music definitely makes for a great sound that can be repeated with a glass of white or a schooner of beer.
Or a bottle of water. If that’s your thing.
– by Noah La’ulu