Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sam Hunt

  • Montevallo [MCA Nashville, 2014] *
  • Between the Pines: An Acoustic Mixtape [MCA Nashville, 2015] ***
  • Southside [MCA Nashville, 2020] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Montevallo [MCA Nashville, 2014]
Popmeister from a small town hooks women for a living, defies cops for show ("Take Your Time," "Cop Car") *

Between the Pines: An Acoustic Mixtape [MCA Nashville, 2015]
Recorded and shopped 2013, major-released 2015, casual backup-band demos often more fun than than the Montevallo versions, plus nine otherwise unavailables ("Cop Car," "I Met a Girl," "Vandalize") ***

Southside [MCA Nashville, 2020]
"Body like a back road/Could drive it with my eyes closed/I know every curve like the back of my hand/Doin' 15 in a 30/I ain't in no hurry/Ima take it slow just as fast as I can"? Even if you think this chorus is too overt, somehow, don't be so dense as to deny how casually it cherishes the American vernacular that imbues great pop songwriting from Irving Berlin to Jay-Z in a Nashville dialect that recalls John Prine--"15 in a 30" my favorite touch, "drive it with my eyes closed" the runner-up, and both were number one on country radio for seven months. This way with words should have stood out more as of Hunt's superb 2014 "Take Your Time," but back then he was so set on bigging up his material with studio-enhanced drums that they often got lost. Dialed back, thankfully, those drums are still with him, but the words prevail from the bereft contrition of "2016" to a heartbroken "Drinkin' Too Much" sent to heaven by a "How Great Thou Art" chorus pecked note-by-note on piano by his beloved regained. My personal favorite is "Sinning With You" even though or because I was pushing 30 before I got to sin with another ex-Christian myself. A-