Since Laine Hardy's American Idol victory in May, the newly crowned champ has officially released his debut single, "Flame," and temporarily relocated to Nashville to work on his first full-length album. It's been a whirlwind for the rising star, he told The Boot on the carpet at the 2019 CMA Awards.

"After I got off the show, all of the sudden I was in Nashville in June and I wrote some songs until late July," Hardy recounts. "And I just recently recorded some new songs with [producer] Michael Knox."

One of country music's most in-demand producers, Knox is best known for discovering Jason Aldean and producing all nine of his studio albums to date. Furthermore, he has also worked with star acts such as Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Montgomery Gentry and Thomas Rhett.

"[My partnership with Knox] was just being tossed around and stuff at first, and it was a really great, cool opportunity to chase," Hardy explains. "I don't know how to describe how that happened. I guess I just got lucky."

Working with Knox is more than just a way for the young artist to add some serious star power to his new project. It's also a way for him to cement his intentions to chase a true-blue country sound, especially coming off of an all-genre show where many contestants pursue a blend of different musical styles.

"I'm more of a traditional kind of artist," the singer says. "I would probably blend all my classic and country influences into my music."

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