by: Michael Ray

A lot happened between the release of Michael Ray's eponymous 2015 major-label debut and 2018's Amos, among them the rise of Sam Hunt. From the moment Amos starts with the lite drum loops driving "Fan Girl," it's clear Ray is following the footsteps of Hunt, adapting the smooth R&B inflections to serve his own purposes. As Ray has always been a slick, sunny singer, this new style looks good on him, whether he's crooning a ballad ("Her World or Mine") or riding a glitzy beat ("You're On," which lightens up several brooding Jason Aldean signatures). Most of Amos is devoted to tunes that are on the softer side of things, which also plays into Ray's strengths. He never gets in the way of the melodies, nor does he place himself in front of the song, which means Amos is a gleaming modern country-pop album, one that's all about sound and style. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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