Sam Hunt released his debut album today. The album entitled Montevallo, features ten songs including the four previously released on his debut EP X2C and the previously released single “Raised On It.” It’s an album true to who Sam is. He’s always stated that despite growing up in the Georgia, it wasn’t the country lifestyle that influenced him. Instead it was sports¹ and a blend of hip-hop, pop, and R&B. Those influences come out in full force on Montevallo.
It’s not a traditional country album, nor is it a bro or pop country album, instead it’s a totally new type of country. There are country lyrics and the occasional country guitar riff. However, that’s about it for the country side of things, strong drum beats, electronic keyboards, and Hunt rapping give the album a different feel. It’s fresh and that’s exactly what the best new artists are able to do. They’re adding something new to the genre and industry and that’s exactly what Sam Hunt does here on Montevallo.
The album opens with the track “Take Your Time.” The lyrics will remind the experienced country fan of a mix of Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” and the song he penned for Kenny Chesney “Come Over.” Hunt sings of not wanting to take up too much time of a girl’s personal space, but rather to take her time. As with his debut EP, Hunt proves to be in touch with the younger generation. He knows the problems and struggles they go through, likely through his own life experiences, and is able to bring them into his songs. The seamless blend between rapping² and singing is present here and throughout the album.
From there it’s “Leave the Night On” and two other tracks off of X2C before new music, “Single for the Summer.” The track is the least country on the entire album. Soft harmonies and some hip hop mixing give the song a slow R&B feel. That takes nothing away from the song, but it’s not country. Hunt singles of the beauties of being single during the summer. “Blame it on the bikinis, party girls, and martinis, in the sunshine,” sings Hunt at the beginning of each chorus. Before noting how much he’ll miss his previous love when fall rolls around. It’s a song that will resonate with nearly every country fan from 16 to 22. It may never see the light of day radio wise, but expect “Single for the Summer” to be a hit commercially when the warmer weather rolls back around.
The remainder of the album includes Hunt’s version of Keith Urban’s hit “Cop Car,” a song he wrote as well as “Speakers” which any Hunt fan will know from his mix tape Between the Pines. “Make You Miss Me,” is the only other new track on there. The album should really be dubbed, the perfect album for the ever-changing teenage lifestyle. Again Hunt strikes a chord, as he sings of the trying times after a break up. This time it’s not Hunt singing of what he wants to do, rather how he strives to make his ex miss him. Despite a few hints of pop it’s a fairly country song and definitely one that could be on country radio in the near future.
Overall, Montevallo is an interesting case as a debut album. There’s no question that it highlights Hunt’s abilities as both a singer and songwriter well. However, it’s not country by any means. That may not be a problem for the commercial success of the CD, but it could cause him some struggles radio wise. Hunt is currently on tour with Kip Moore and by all accounts has been killing it night in and night out, but there will come a point when he’ll need another radio single to stay relevant. That’s where problems could arise, of the 10 songs on the album only four really service as country radio singles. One of those, “Leave the Night On” has already been released. It will be interesting to see where Hunt goes from here, but as a whole he should be pleased with Montevallo. We definitely are.
¹ Hunt played quarterback for the University of Alabama – Birmingham.
² It’s more of talking, but we can call it rap.