10 New Artists You Need to Know: Summer 2014

Meet the most buzzworthy new acts in country and Americana
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David McClister

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Sam Hunt

Sounds Like: Breezy hick-hop for a hot August night.

For Fans Of: Zac Brown Band, Jake Owen, Jack Johnson, Matt Kearney and football

Why You Should Pay Attention: If you haven't heard Sam Hunt sing yet, you've probably heard a few of his tunes. Kenny Chesney's "Come Over," Billy Currington's "We Are Tonight" and Keith Urban's "Cop Car" are among the cuts the 29-year-old whippersnapper songsmith has penned for the country superstars whose ranks he could soon join. Not bad for a small-town Georgia boy who, just over a decade ago, left his fledgling career as a free-agent quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs and set out for Nashville to take a stab at a songwriting career. Now Hunt's stepping into the spotlight as a singer in his own right. Take a listen to the airy acoustic jangle, tight-locked groove and smooth lyrical flow of his debut single, "Leave the Night On," and it's no surprise the singer's soft spot for Clinton-era country is rivaled only by an affinity for hip-hop production and R&B crooners. A modern country mechanic with an ear for contemporary Top 40 aesthetics and a business savvy to match, it's also little surprise Hunt says he prefers crafting his cuts to programmed beats rather than on acoustic guitar, or that he got viral groundswell going by giving away acoustic mixtapes online.
He Says: "Within the songwriting community there are these unwritten rules for the way that a song should be written in country music, and I think that those rules are constantly being broken over the years, and the molds change and the process is evolving. So coming in not knowing those rules really helped me a lot to do what I felt was honest and right."

Hear for Yourself: The infectious, feel-good, "Leave the Night On." By Adam Gold

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