First Listen: Alex Williams, 'Better Than Myself'

The 26-year-old country singer is a student of old-line outlaw country and its tradition of leathery, knowing tall talk.

The perception that down-to-earth plainspokenness is a quintessential quality of country music tends to obscure the fact that exaggeration has long been a choice tool of country music-makers, too. In the hits of this decade — when hip-hop's influence has surfaced not only in country production techniques, but the cadences of vocal deliveries and the postures struck in lyrics and performances — this sometimes takes the form of materialistic swagger (i.e. luring attractive women into a "" or a "" that's "rollin' on 35s." Over time, though, the embellishment

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