Sam Hunt served as the surprise guest at Tuesday (March 10) evening’s Rhythm and Boots showcase held at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley. The singer took the stage for his second show of the year, and during his 45-minute set, he debuted several tracks off his forthcoming sophomore studio album Southside, due out April 3.
The country singer kicked off his performance with his most recent No. 1 hit “Kinfolks” and thanked country radio for his first chart topper in three years. Seated on a stool with his acoustic guitar in hand, Hunt’s band surrounded him on the stage with a stripped down set that gave an intimate living room vibe to the sold-out venue.
In the midst of fan favorites “House Party,” “Leave the Night On,” “Break Up In a Small Town” and “Make You Miss Me,” Hunt debuted several unreleased songs off his Southside album, including the nostalgic “Young Once,” which highlighted his soulful vocals alongside hand snapped rhythms and an infectious chorus that will no doubt soar in the arena setting.
Ahead of performing the confessional “2016,” which details his regrets in a former relationship, Hunt admitted it’s the most honest song he’s ever released and was hesitant to include it on Southside. He penned the track with Zach Crowell and Josh Thompson, and it serves as the first song on the album.
“When I wrote it, I never thought I’d actually put it on the record because it’s a little more vulnerable. A lot of times, songwriters … we’re truthful but only to an extent in our songs,” he said. “I played it for a few buddies, and they talked me into putting it on the record. It’s more of a Bluebird song than a 3rd & Lindsley song, but we’re going to try it.”
His set also included new single “Hard to Forget,” which includes a snippet of Webb Pierce’s 1953 hit “There Stands the Glass” at the song’s start and various moments throughout the entirety of the track. As he introduced the track, he explained how Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary helped inspire the song.
“About six months ago I was writing with a buddy of mine and I was in the middle of watching this country music documentary that just came out. If y’all haven’t seen it, Ken Burns put out this country music documentary that’s really cool. It educates you on the history of country music. Country music has lots and lots of rich history,” he said. “There’s a song [my friend] played for me on this track and I was like, ‘Man, I’ve gotta figure out how to write a song to this.’ I needed a good idea. Finally found the right idea and wrote this song and we just put it out as our second single.”
Hunt also performed “Sinning With You,” a song he penned with show opener Emily Weisband and Josh Osborne and Paul DiGiovanni, about growing up in the south before closing the evening with his crossover hit “Body Like a Back Road.”
“I took a little break these past couple years and I want to thank y’all for not forgetting about me,” he said ahead of a room sing-along of “Body Like a Back Road.”
Rhythm and Boots is a monthly showcase hosted by local country radio station NashFM 103.3 in partnership with Musicians On Call. The money raised goes to Musicians On Call, a non-profit that brings music to the bedsides of hospital patients.