A former college football quarterback, Sam Hunt might be expected to huddle up with all the macho, in-your-face male country singers currently filling the radio airwaves. But the Georgia native takes a more relaxed, romantic stance on "Montevallo," his R&B-influenced country music debut.
While most contemporary country stars lean on hyper hip-hop beats and fast-moving raps to accent their dirt-road sound, Hunt turns to R&B romanticism, with the singer coming off as a blend of Usher and Kenny Chesney.
As on his first hit, "Leave The Night On," Hunt often sings as if whispering in a lover's ear. That works most effectively on pulsing, soft-spoken ballads like "Take Your Time" and "Make You Miss Me." The album also includes his compelling take on "Cop Car," a hit for Keith Urban that Hunt co-wrote.
Hunt occasionally presents a lyrical idea he should have left behind: "Ex To See" is a corny play on words about a woman using the singer to make an old boyfriend jealous. Similarly, "Single For The Summer" obnoxiously embraces short-lived summer romances_citing small-town runaways and rich debutantes with debit cards as favorite targets.
For the most part, though, "Montevallo" establishes Hunt as a more sensitive and distinctive newcomer than most of his bro-country peers.