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Sam Hunt Goes Behind the Songs of ‘Southside’

Sam HuntSam Hunt’s Southside has finally arrived! The heavily anticipated album is here six years after the release of his huge debut Montevallo. This collection of 12 tracks finds Hunt in his sweet spot mining that area between pop and country. The choruses are huge and the tunes exude swagger and heart. Music Choice was fortunate enough for Hunt to give us a little peek behind the curtain and detail just went into making six of the new songs. Check it all out below while jamming Southside and then head over to the Music Choice webplayer for more sweet Sam content!

“2016”
When I’m writing a song for a new record I always think about how they will go over live, how they’ll go over on country radio, and how they will connect with the fans who want to know more about me. It’s not easy to get all those things into one song. A lot of times I’ll write songs that come out too personal and I don’t plan on putting them out because that can be too vulnerable a thing. Then I have to step into a character to write the song around an idea. Then things aren’t as vulnerable. “2016” is a personal one.

This song was plain cathartic. When I was writing it I didn’t even think I’d include it on Southside. The idea came to me and just kind of fell out. I got together with a couple of buddies and we worked out the song details. It wound up on the record because of the reaction I got from a close circle I play new stuff for. Everyone was like “you gotta put this song on the record!”

“Hard To Forget”
This one is like “House Party” and “Leave the Night On” are. Those two songs are so fun to play live that I wanted to lean into that sound on this record. I heard the Webb Pierce song that we sampled and I knew I wanted to use it somewhere. I had started another track with two writing buddies, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, and it didn’t sound anything like what ended up on the record. Once I heard that Webb Pierce sample this came out really quickly and that was that. Honestly, this album was kind of all over the place and as soon as this song was finished it all seemed to come together. I quickly wrote three or four more songs after that and it was like “ok, we got a record. Let’s go!”

“Kinfolks”
I had the title before I even wrote the song. In the south “kinfolks” is a phrase that everybody uses no matter where you’re from. I sat down with a couple of buddies on a writing retreat when I first started working on the record. We had some conversations and found the angle. That’s the beauty of co-writing. You can get together with close friends and discuss ways not to write the song and landmines to avoid. You can cut all the fat and just roll.

The cowriting helped so much with “Kinfolks” because I would have kept going around in circles on how to approach it. Working with friends to crack the song made it the perfect one to start this next stage of my career.

Sam Hunt“Young Once”
This song takes a look at youth in a nostalgic way. I’m a few years older than I was when my first album came out and reflecting on younger days is a theme in country music. If you’re going to do it, you have to come in an original way. I tried to do that here.

My buddy Josh Osborne, have to give him credit because he came up with this idea. I had a song called “Young Again” that I was ready to put on Southside and he came in one day saying he knew I had that track ready but asked me to listen to something. Then he played me the hook “if we never do anything else stupid, at least one day we’ll look back and say we were young once.” I was sold. Some songs will take so long to write and this one happened in about two to three hours. We just followed the idea’s lead and it developed into something I’m so excited about.

“That Ain’t Beautiful”
This is a song… it feels more like a letter or a note that was saved on your phone. That is what kind of happened here. I sat down and wrote a verse a couple of years ago and my producer saved it on his computer. I had totally forgotten about it. That was almost three years ago and then we stumbled across it and wrote a second verse. I still didn’t know what the chorus should be. Coming back across it we sat down and sang the words from my note and left it as is. I don’t think this could be a single but hopefully, the fans who like to dig in beyond those will appreciate it.

“Let It Down”
My brother-in-law is in a bluegrass band and I grew up loving bluegrass. I haven’t listened to it as much the past few years, but I like his band that he plays mandolin in and that has reinvigorated my excitement for the genre. I started getting the feeling I wanted to incorporate bluegrass elements into this album. My writing buddy Josh Osborne was watching the Ken Burns country documentary and it gave him this song idea to which my producer had a beat he felt fit. We didn’t think about it too much. We scattered the verses out and went where the music took us. It was probably the quickest song we wrote.

Sam Hunt

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