Image Courtesy David McClister/UMGSam Hunt‘s debut album, Montevallo, comes out Monday, and it’s getting a lot of buzz for Sam’s modern take on country music. Since he incorporates hip-hop and pop elements into his music, you might be surprised to learn about Sam’s classic country influences. In fact, the first CD he ever owned was a Greatest Hits compilation from Country Music Hall of Fame member Conway Twitty, best known for ’70s hits like “Hello Darlin'” and “I’d Just Love to Lay You Down.”

Sam tells ABC News Radio, “Of course, Conway Twitty was before my time, but I remember sitting with my grandmother at her house, and an infomercial came on for Conway Twitty Greatest Hits. She’s probably about like myself, kind of an impulse-buy type. She said, ‘You need this Conway Twitty.'”

Sam spent a lot of time soaking up Conway’s smooth singing style mixed with the occasional spoken word interlude. That influence might explain why Sam freely moves between speaking and singing his lyrics on Montevallo.

As for his songwriting, Sam was heavily influenced by Brad Paisley, whose early hit, “He Didn’t Have to Be,” had a big impact on Sam as a kid growing up in Georgia.

Says Sam, “I remember being at church on Wednesday night at Wednesday night supper, and getting the keys from my mom well before it was over to just go sit in the car and to turn the radio on and hopefully wait and catch that song.”

Sam is well on his way to earning his first chart-topper at country radio with “Leave the Night On,” which is included on Montevallo.

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