Sam Hunt makes the wait worthwhile with new album ‘Southside’

Country fans have waited six long years for Sam Hunt’s second album, “Southside.” Naturally, Hunt didn’t disappoint and mesmerized fans with his heartfelt acoustic ballads filled with romanticism and profound lyrics.

The Georgia native’s new album contains 12 tracks, two more songs than his triple-platinum album, “Montevallo,” had. 

Hunt couldn’t have released “Southside” at a better time. During quarantine, Americans have plenty of time to reflect and appreciate the little things in life. Similarly, the album’s slow beats enchant listeners and induce feelings of nostalgia, regret and romance. 

Under the spell of acoustic ballads, Hunt provides fans with glimpses of his broken romance with his then girlfriend and current wife, Hannah Lee Fowler. The album’s opening song, “2016,” sets the painful tone for the rest of the album.

Though “2016” isn’t the catchiest song on the album, it is tied with “Drinkin’ Too Much” for most sincere song. The track features Hunt’s confession regarding the emptiness that he felt after breaking up with Fowler and the yearning for the return of her love. The heartbreaking lyrics transcend the speaker in such a way that you can’t help but sympathize with Hunt’s broken heart — and maybe shed a tear, or two. 

However, “Southside” isn’t all about pain and broken hearts. Thankfully, Hunt includes upbeat and catchy songs such as “Downtown’s Dead” and “Body Like a Back Road.” The latter, which was released as a single, actually served as inspiration for Hunt’s 15 in a 30 Tour back in 2017. 

While Hunt’s acoustic ballads are captivating, “Body Like a Back Road” takes home the prize for best song on the “Southside” album. The track is a refreshment from the pain and regret that stems from broken romances and traditional country music. The track experiments with some R&B melodies, a much more contemporary version of country which has been condemned by many loyal country fans as “bro country.

Though “Body Like a Back Road” may be considered country taboo, it is important to acknowledge Hunt’s incredible songwriting ability. The R&B melodies are contoured perfectly to where the track can appeal to both traditional and contemporary country fans. The beat is catchy and the lyrics are simple, which makes it easy for fans to sing along. Of course, Hunt offers that traditionally country twist with his references to back roads and boondocks. If you listen carefully, you might just catch glimpses of his Georgia accent.

The biggest surprise comes with the album’s closing song “Drinkin’ Too Much.” Here, Hunt opens the song with an apologetic ballad addressed to Fowler for revealing her name to his fans and the unwanted trouble that this brought upon her. 

Yet, Hunt contradicts himself by name dropping his wife towards the end of the song. The surprise emerges forty seconds before the track’s conclusion with a piano coda played by no other than Fowler herself — a sign of consent and affirmation of Hunt’s lyrics, “ain’t no way we’re through.” 

The song essentially embodies the entire album: hope amidst a whirlwind of pain and regret. As Hunt told the Associated Press in 2016, “I wanted the song to have her blessing. I wanted to end the song on a hopeful note. I didn’t want it to be a complete down-and-outer. I wanted the listener to hear the redemption in the song and not just … the dark place that the guy’s in as he’s singing it.”