Laine Hardy knows a thing or two about tiny towns. The Season 17 winner of American Idol and newest Taste of Country RISER grew up in a community of less than 2,000 people, so he’s testifying as much as he is singing about “wearing Main Street down” and store sign “letters burning out.”
“Tiny Town” is Hardy’s debut single after winning American Idol in 2019. Since then he’s been doggedly traveling between Nashville and Livingston, La., for writing appointments and media opportunities. He’s found critical acclaim with tracks like “Ground I Grew Up On” and “Let There Be Country.” Michael Knox (Jason Aldean) has guided him throughout, impressing upon the 20-year-old the importance of a “best song wins” motto. Michael Tyler actually wrote “Tiny Town,” even though it sounds like something Hardy would put to paper himself. There was never any question of if he liked it.
“Just the whole idea of the song. Every single lyric in the song is spot on to my tiny town,” he tells Taste of Country.
The country newcomer’s quiet approach to his career almost runs counter to the pageantry each season of American Idol ends with. There’s been no rush to push new music on his fans (including 600K on Instagram) or to hit country radio with a single “while the fire is hot.” The slow burn fits the soft-spoken country boy well, and it’s clear he’s as comfortable listening and learning as he is leading.
One of the more remarkable takeaways from Hardy’s RISERS shoot in Nashville was how he works a guitar. There’s just a short five-note solo during this acoustic version of “Tiny Town,” but fans can prepare for a little more as Taste of Country readies a Christmas performance and a classic cover song for later this year.
Because of the pandemic, Hardy is just the second RISER of 2020, following the Cadillac Three in January. He joins good company, however — former RISERS include ACM and CMA nominated acts like Morgan Wallen, Caylee Hammack, Jimmie Allen and Riley Green.
RISERS started in 2017 with artists like Brett Young and Runaway June and has come to represent the best and brightest new artists in country music, regardless of record label affiliation. There are artists to watch, and then there are RISERS. With “Tiny Town,” Laine Hardy proves he’s a RISER.
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