Sam Hunt

Between the Pines

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Sam Hunt released the "acoustic mixtape" -- not quite a demo, not quite a party; it's a term borrowed from hip-hop and spun into the realm of country -- Between the Pines in 2013, issuing it as a free download on his website. It helped set up his 2014 debut Montevallo and, a year after the release of that album, Warner did a full digital reissue of Between the Pines, shuffling the sequencing and adding three new songs. Noteworthy are covers of Keith Urban's "Cop Car" and Kenny Chesney's "Come Over," songs that underscore Hunt's mainstream influences, but what's most interesting about this "acoustic mixtape" is how, even without the shiny veneer of Shane McAnally's studio production, Hunt's lithe soul and hip-hop influences are evident, both in the drum loops and his fleet cadences. That's what makes Between the Pines worth a listen for Hunt fans who don't number themselves among his hardcore.

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