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Thread: Sam Hunt - Montavello Era

  1. #1
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    Sam Hunt - Montavello Era

    I started this thread to discuss Sam Hunt and his Montavello album. I am not necessarily a fan of Sam Hunt, as I am just starting to listen to his music and as of this moment, I am not sure that I care to continue listening. I mainly started this thread because I didn't want to start this discussion in the chart thread or derail any of the Carrie threads. Sam seems to be the new popular "it" guy in country music and I wanted to hear what makes him so special. I must admit that so far, I haven't figured it out.

    I started listening to his album Montavello on Spotify Friday evening on my way to meet a friend for dinner. Since I only have the free version of Spotify, it seemed to keep playing the same songs over and over - some from the main album the others from some EPs or acoustic versions. (In checking the track list for Montavello on Spotify, it does seem that at some point I did hear every song on the album although it seemed to play the same ones over and over, I did indeed at least hear every song once.)

    With that said, I have to say that I think his music is pretty atrocious. Leave the Night On and Take Your Time certainly seem to be the best of the bunch, so I can see why they released them as singles. I know we often talk about what is country and what isn't on this site, but I have to say that I think there is very little evidence of anything country in his music. Raised On It seems to be the only album track I heard that has any intention of pretending to be country. The rest of the songs don't even seem to be pretending - they seem to be blatantly pop and R&B with some of the most stupid lyrics I have ever heard. If bro country is bad, then his music is the nail in the coffin, because it is worse than any bro country I have ever heard. He makes Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Cole Swindell, Tyler Farr, Kip Moore, and FGL seem like classic country singers compared to his music. Those guys all certainly use rock, R&B, and even rap influences in their music, but at least their voices are country sounding and I can recognize the music in their songs as having some shred of country influence. Sam sounds like he should be in a boy band - his voice is almost too smooth and combined with the music doesn't seem to even try to be country. He really sounds like he should be in a boy band - One Direction needs a new member, maybe he should try out?

    Anyway, the guy is hot, I'll give him that. He gives Luke Bryan a run for his money in the looks department (although a lot of Luke's appeal is also his humble personality). I just can't find anything of worth in his music. If people thought Taylor Swift was dangerous to country music, this guy's music is like the plague. Taylor was so much more country than this guy ever thought about being, even on her Red album.

    So, what are everyone else's thoughts? If we are going to get up in arms about what is good country music and the takeover of bro-country on the radio, then I don't see how anyone can like this guy. Also, I think Keith Urban's version of Cop Car is SO MUCH BETTER. Keith's voice at least gives the song a little character. Sam's version is so bland. Here are some lyrics excerpts to prove my point:

    Speakers: "I can feel the bass line in the bed liner"..."Love in the back of the truck with the tailgate down just us and the speakers on"

    Breakup In a Small Town: "
    She was over me before the grass grew back where she used to park her car"

    Raised On It:
    Cheap gas and ready ice,
    Trunk music and headlight fights
    Dodging the smoke from a riverbank fire
    A pretty girl and a pickup line like
    "Hey what's your name, you know smoke follows beauty, baby"

    House Party:
    We'll have a house party, we don't need nobody
    Turn your TV off, break that boom-box out
    We'll wake up all the neighbors til the whole block hates us
    And the cops will show up and try to shut us down

    If you're gonna be a homebody
    We're gonna have a house party
    If you wanna be a homebody
    We're gonna have a house party
    "

  • #2
    Huge Carrie Follower CarrieUDomination's Avatar
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    "She was over me before the grass grew back where she used to park her car." LOLOLOL WHY IS THAT SUCH A FUNNY LYRIC OMG

    Anyway, I kinda like Sam. Take Your Time is the JAM and Leave the Night On is pretty good for a bro-country song; I love the "Don't you wanna rally agaaaaaaain" part. But then again, those two are the only ones I've heard by him. I have really no issue with the songs not being country, but I'm not too awful sure I'd be interested in hearing more about trucks and tailgates. I'm beyond sick of that. It's a shame -- I was hoping he'd be different. I was actually just thinking about downloading the album this morning. I'll give it a listen and post my thoughts back here after I've done it.

    Thanks for starting the thread! LOVE these!

  • #3
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    The album is on Spotify and you can listen for free on the app (just have to listen to the songs shuffled) or on the web player on your computer (you can listen to the whole album in order). You can create your own login or just login with Facebook - that's what I do. I was really hoping for more from the album. I do think Leave the Night On is very catchy, but other than Raised On It, it's the only song that I heard that even pretends to be country. I haven't heard Take Your Time as much, but it seems to be an ok song, although I'm not the biggest fan of the talk-singing. It's funny, because I don't mind the rap style of songs like Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem", but I don't care for the straight up talking. Anyway, after hearing those two, I was really hopeful that the rest of his album might be good, even if it was more bro-country (I personally don't have a problem with most bro-country). It's just that the more I listened, the worse the lyrics seemed to get and the musical style seemed to be very smooth pop/R&B. Definitely listen to it (for free if you can) and come back and let me know what you think of the rest.

    I have always tried to not get too caught up in what is country and what isn't. We all know that Carrie, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, and Lady Antebellum are on the pop/rock side of country, and a lot of bro-country is Southern rock and even a little R&B/hip hop flavored, but there always seems to be something that draws it back to having a country influence - either the lyrics, the music, or the country inflections in the singers' voices. I just have a hard time drawing any line back to country influence with most of the songs on Sam's album.

  • #4
    Huge Carrie Follower CarrieUDomination's Avatar
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    I listened to the album, and, honestly.. I kinda like it.

    I wouldn't ever call it a country album lol. It isn't even bro-country, it's just straight-up plain and simple NOT country. I don't really know what genre I'd call it. R&B/hip hip/pop/Southern rock fusion? The guy's got a unique sound, for sure, especially considering he calls himself a country artist. I agree that TYT and LTNO are definitely the best cuts, along with Break Up in a Small Town, which I thought was pretty terrific even if some of its lyrics were kinda silly. I'm gonna keep listening to see what else grows on me. I'm sure some others will. I really enjoyed what he had going on throughout the whole album. It's just different.

  • #5
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    Perhaps that is why I couldn't quite "get" it when I listened to it. I was expecting some form of country or bro-country music and it honestly kind of blind-sided me with how NOT country it was, lol. Maybe I can listen to it again without expecting to hear country music and have a different perspective on the music, although I will admit that while I like female pop music, I am not that into the male pop/R&B scene as much these days. I thought I would love Sam Smith's album, because I like the two singles (Stay With Me and I'm Not The Only One) a lot, but I didn't really care for his album as a whole. Same for John Legend. When it comes to male singers, I either like more pop/rock (One Republic, Maroon 5, Daughtry, Imagine Dragons) or more mellow/folksy type music (Hozier, Mumford). I just can't seem to get into the pop/R&B flavored music and I think that is where Sam Hunt's album falls for me. Then the added fact that I was expecting country and didn't get it.

  • #6
    Junior Carrie Follower dsfox2009's Avatar
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    I know that I am in the minority (at least on this board), but I actually really like Sam and his debut. He may not be the most traditional artist in the genre, but at least he gives us something that sounds different. If you take the instrumentals from most of the other guys in the genre today and listen to them without the vocals on the track, you wouldn't be able to guess whose song it is. That's not the case with Sam. You can easily distinguish the type of sound that he is going for from the rest of the group. Personally, I don't really care whether a country artist uses mandolins and acoustic guitars in each track they produce. Heck, we all know that Carrie doesn't do this with all of her songs. I like that aspect in an artist's music.

    As for the album itself, I will admit that it isn't the most creative in the lyrics department. But there are some little quirks in there that one must give the guy credit for. The best example I can think of is the ecstasy/Ex To See play on words he pulls off. It will be really interesting to see what he and his team decide to promote after TYT has its run on the charts. My guess is either House Party or Break Up In A Small Town.

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    I don't have a problem with someone having a different sound - that is a great thing. It's just when that different sound seems to have nothing that remotely ties it back to a country sound that bothers me. So many people on this site (me included) got up in arms over Taylor using country as her stepping stone and her music was a hundred million times more country than what Sam is putting out. To me, it isn't even pretending to be country, it is straight up pop/R&B. It's different, that's great, but it can't even pretend to be country. And that is saying a lot with how far the genre lines of country have been stretched in recent years. Carrie does use a lot of pop and rock influence in her albums, but her voice or the instruments or the lyrics/storytelling or something always come back to having some sort of country influence. I can't say the same with Sam. I'm not saying the music is bad (although I don't think it is great), I just think it took the stretching of the genre lines and just broke them into something completely unrecognizable. So, I personally can't find any praise for him having a different sound than the rest of bro-country when in my opinion, it is more boy band/Jonas/5SOS/1D pop.

  • #8
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    Sam Hunt has popped up for short discussions in one or two other threads (not surprisingly, because he's both the current leading new prospect in the male Mainstream, with radio chart success and impressive sales - but is also a very divisive figure among some Country Music fans and journalists)

    I said then that his stylistic innovations are interesting, and I actually find him better than many of the current male Mainstream singers.

    It's interesting to see you refer to Taylor Swift, by the way, since it does strike me that his lyrical and thematic style has similarities to Swift's - I noticed this, for example, in "Break Up In a Small Town" and "Ex to See".
    Also, Hunt sometimes steers lyrically close to the "Bro" songs - e.g. in "House Party" and "Single for the Summer" (though I find his music usually more interesting than most of the Bro songs)

    I actually wouldn't be ready to deny him a place in Country Music - I do hear twang in several instrumental passages, and Country references in his lyrics (Just as, for example, I defended parts of "Red" as being Country inspired, when people were dismissing it as pure Pop, so I feel Hunt is still keeping hold of enough Country spirit to retain a genuine place in the broader contemporary genre, that goes further than a nominal connection with the radio format.)

    Hunt gained some traction as a songwriter before releasing this album (he wrote or co-wrote, for example, songs recorded by Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban). He also co-wrote every track on his own album. If you look at the credentials for the album, it was co-produced by Shane McAnally and Zach Crowell, and they and other Country writers, including Josh Osborne, are strongly represented among his co-writers. McAnally, as most will know, co-wrote Carrie's "Keep Us Safe", and was all over Kacey Musgraves' award winning album. Zach Crowell may be less familiar, but he co-wrote, for example Wil Hoge's "Strong" - a first rate Country song. Hence, this is very much a production by the current New Wave in Country Music, and is intended for the cutting edge of the Mainstream - not just as a token record label marketing exercise.

    I can fully understand the doubts of many Country fans - this is not classic Country, and not the usual run of Mainstream hits - but, in my view, it does lift the bar of expectations in ways that sometimes prove pretty interesting (as well as sometimes proving more disappointing) We probably need to hear more work to fully judge where he's going and whether he can sustain the impetus.)

    Finally - I hope I'm not setting the cat among the pigeons, when I say that I have a definite feeling that some of Carrie's new work will involve R & B / Urban influences (which is currently a prominent trend in the Mainstream, and one that she's unlikely to ignore.) Also - she has been working with some of the same people, as well as with one or two who have been mentioned, who are deeper into the R & B field.

  • #9
    Junior Carrie Follower dsfox2009's Avatar
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    Faraway...I wish there was a way for me to show how much I liked your post. I suppose this statement will have to do. I agree with you so much! I can't exactly put my finger on why Sam stands out from the pack of the rest of the guys in the genre right now, but it's something. Yes, his instrumentation is certainly different but I still feel like there are other factors that come into play as well.

    As for the comparisons to Red...I'm not so sure I would go that far. At the end of the day, I have to classify Red as a pop album. But I will admit that Taylor did still infuse country elements into that record. I just don't see why everyone is gobbling up everything she releases like it's Thanksgiving dinner still to this day, because I just can't see what's so groundbreaking or extraordinary about her music. But this is Sam's thread, so I won't go there.

    As for Carrie working with some of the same producers/co-writers on her next album, I say bring it on. I trust Carrie's visions completely, and I know that she will never release something that could easily have a remix released with Nicki Minaj or Iggy Azalea on it. I love when Carrie pushes the boundaries, although it does seem to really not settle well with those that prefer traditional country or more western sounds.
    Farawayhills and lizcarlo like this.


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