By Aaron Wagner
The last time Sam Hunt dropped an album, Donald Trump was still the host of The Apprentice, the Cubs last championship was 1908, and Blake and Miranda were still married.
It’s been awhile.
However, in Sam’s defense one his debut album Montevallo was released his life was already changing faster than anyone could imagine. His career was taking off like a rocket ship. That meant he was spending all of his time touring and making appearances left and right.
Fast forward a few years and he released “Body Like a Backroad” as a single which would become a smash hit in 2017. A year later he released another single with “Downtown’s Dead” which peaked at #14. But where was the full length album?
Simply put, Sam needed a breather after the whirlwind of Montevallo. He reconnected with his girlfriend, got engaged and eventually tied the knot. He began rediscovering who he was, what he learned from his mistakes, and trying to figure out what the next chapter of his music would be.
Following up on the success of Montevallo was always going to be a hurdle, but there is a TON to like on SOUTHSIDE. My only grumble is that we’ve already heard 3 of the 12 songs from the years in between the albums.
Sam appropriately kicks off the album with “2016” as he pours out his heart detailing the mistakes he was making at the time and acknowledging he hurt people. This one is already getting rave reviews from fans. Then there’s “Hard to Forget” which is already in the Top 20, but might be the catchiest song in country so far this year as he incorporates a country classic but puts his own Sam Hunt sound on the song.
“Kinfolks” was released as a single last fall ahead of the album and with it reaching #1 I think we can agree that it’s a really good song. Sam looks back into his youth in a mid-tempo song with “Young Once,” a song that has immense “summer love” potential.
The one song that stands out because it’s so different is “That Ain’t Beautiful.” It has Sam being as candid and outspoken as possible with what I can assume are good intentions but it hits you hard in the soul. Another summer jam potential is “Let It Down” which is super catchy and it honestly made me forget to pay attention to the lyrics. While Sam is bashfully no care in the world on “Let It Down” his tune changes immediately with “Nothing Lasts Forever” as he realizes that even though there was never a long term future, he still felt something and now feels hurt. It’s a clever juxtaposition of the same story between the two songs.
“Sinning With You” has baby-making music potential, but if you listen closely to the lyrics you understand that he never viewed her as a casual fling. The album wraps up with “Drinking Too Much” which might sound familiar as it was released way back in 2017 but didn’t receive a ton of attention. A deeply personal song that has Hunt detailing specific things that are coming to his heartbroken mind while he pours another one up. I picture him pouring his heart (and these lyrics) out to some lonely bartender.
“Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90s” is my favorite song from SOUTHSIDE and in my opinion a gem that has massive potential to be another smash hit for him. It gives me “Break Up in a Small Town” vibes and even some “Cop Car” vibes. Sam is the only artist who can execute on the spoken verse moving immediately into pouring his heart out in the mid-tempo chorus.
Sam Hunt is already having success from some of the songs on this album and I’ll be curious to see which other songs he releases as singles. At the end of the day there’s a ton to like on the album and I’m just glad we were gifted with a new catalog of Sam Hunt songs.