Sam Hunt – Southside


Sam Hunt

2020 – Country / Folk

MCA Nashville

The country singer’s second album is a set of songs that act like a sure shot for success: he mixes country with hip-hop, pop and romantic lyrics, however, he is still in the usual.

In 2008, shortly after his dream of being a professional player be destroyed, Sam Hunt moved to Nashville to start his music career. However, the beginning of his career was extremely cold with few relevant works, however, in 2012, he composed “Come Over” for Kenny Chesney, which made Hunt win the ASCAP award. From then on, his career would take off. In 2013, it launched a mixtape independently. The following year, with a contract with MCA Nashville, he released his first album, Montevallo, which brought together elements of country, pop and hip-hop.  However, since then Sam’s life has not been so easy: a troubled break-up, alcohol problems and even prison were part of his life. Now, six years after the launch of Montevallo, Sam Hunt launches the continuation of his debut, Southside.

In Montevallo, Sam Hunt played with experimentation: he mixed a little bit of old country with modern, in addition to bringing together hip-hop, R&B techniques and Pop trends. And Southside follows the same line. In reality, sonically, we don’t see much tangency between Southside and his debut album: we have the same guitars that comtemplate the music of the past decades together with the computerized synthetic beats of current pop music. And although some moments throughout the album Hunt saturate this style, he is not entirely wrong since this is a sure combination that will work, or at least, will please most people. In fact, what most differentiates the two projects is the thematic of the songs that fall to a more personal side: Sam reports the moments after the end that he regrets until today and how he dealt with this moment of difficulty, which varied from no drinking and waking dreams.

Although most of the songs do not go beyond tracks built to be radio and Spotify hits, there are really decent songs on this album. The first three tracks are really good. The sad and dancing ballad “2016” begins the album with Sam reflecting on his last choices of breaking up with his beloved to follow the world of music and how he regrets — ironically it really sounds like the theme of country music. Hunt’s vocals are quite decent here, as he manages to make some words sound as strong as his meaning. The instrumental follows the same path that, despite being generic and based entirely on piano, guitar and vibrant synthesizers, ends up sounding good. In addition, the track has several phrases that caught my attention, such as “Because all my lies can still come true”.

Going further into the album, with the help of a sample of “There Stands the Glass” by Webb Pierce, “Hard to Forget” appears mixing old and new to talk about how hard it is to forget his lover. Although the lyrics sound a little strange with questionable lines and the chorus doesn’t seem to have received much refinement, the music is very nice to hear too. In “Kinfolks” Sam makes an early love become even earlier: he just met his lover that he barely saw around but already feels that it is time to introduce her to his parents, friends and favorite places. Obviously, this is not really literal (I hope) but it was a cute gesture to demonstrate that he really likes the girl. The chorus of this track sounds very beautiful and passionate, and besides, the track has a great ending.

However, unfortunately, from here the album starts to go the wrong way. “Young Once” starts quite well in the first verse and in the pre-chorus that prepared you for something that actually looks promising, but when the chorus arrives we are all disappointed with this very meaningless chorus full of forced and saturated rhymes: “Cheap thrills, doing things in the wheat fields / We were young, we were young, we were young once”. “Body Like a Back Road”, despite having some cool instruments, is full of whistles that assholes make when a woman passes by and has an extremely banal, poor and even offensive lyrics (“Body like a back road”). “Downtown’s Dead”, where he reports how his life is dull after his ex’s departure, presents some precarious lines, such as: “But Friday night, it might as well be just another / Tuesday night without you” and in the chorus that looks more like a demo version than something finished.

In addition to all this, we have some monologues that hover between songs and poem. “That Ain’t Beautiful” that seems like Sam’s indecisiveness to make a beat with James Blake’s influences or make a poem where he talks about his ex’s life and how difficult her life has been since they broke up. In “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90’s” he talks about how hard it is to deal with a breakup these days as we have easy access to what the person we love is doing. At the end of the album, on “Drinkin’ Too Much “, a track that ends up being good and ends up closing the album very well, Hunt apologizes to his ex for breaking up with her:” I never wanted to be a heartbreaker”. In conjunction with the lyrics that are well built, we have some guitars that sound crazy, heavy beats and Sam singing as if he is holding himself up not to cry with this dramatic piano ending the track very well.

In short, Southside is quite enjoyable. Although the vast majority of the songs have generic instrumentals that do not go beyond guitars and synthetic beats, these are still pretty cool to hear at a party or on the radio. The lyrics, in turn, although some tracks have lyrics that seem to force rhymes or have worrying lines, ended up being mediocre. I think one of the best explanations for this album would be for you to mix James Blake’s Assume Form with country.

LISTEN ON: Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal

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