Laine Hardy knows a thing or two about tiny towns. The Season 17 winner of American Idol 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 including "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," Hardy reflects.

laine hardy robby klein
Robby Klein

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 shoot in Nashville, for Taste of Country's RISERS program, 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 in an upcoming Christmas performance and a classic cover song for later this year.

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