Sam Hunt was nominated for three CMA awards this year, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year, but the real topic of discussion for the singer/songwriter is this: what happened to the beard?

Hunt recently shaved off his rustic, almost lumberjack-worthy beard, much to the dismay of many female fans, but why? The artist took time behind the scenes at the CMA Awards to explain himself to Taste of Country.

“I went home for my younger brother’s wedding and caught a little flack from my grandmother,” he admits. “In the sweetest grandmother kind of way, she let me know that she didn’t like the beard at all."

Though that may be true, Hunt says it wasn’t the main reason he went clean-shaven.

“When we got off the road, I wanted to start a new chapter. I was about to get in the studio to write. I told myself I was gonna start working out again. It was kind of a metaphor for a new chapter in my life,” he says.

Hunt recently released the music video for his current single, “Break Up in a Small Town,” which features a house up in flames. Though no one got hurt during the filming, the artist says he almost got singed in the process.

“There’s one scene where I was walking through a door, and the flames are burning on each side of the door frame,” he recalls. “I was planning on just walking straight through, but you can see in the video I do this little lean. That was because my shoulders were so close — they were burnin’ up."

Hunt is just beginning to work on new music for his follow-up to the immensely popular Montevallo, gathering material and establishing a basis for the record.

“I’ve sort of been piling up thoughts and ideas and trying to conceptualize what I want to do, what I want to say, how I want to say it, what direction I want to go musically,” he says. “I think we’ll just approach it the way we did the first record, follow our gut instinct."

That gut instinct is what brought songs like “House Party” to the album, even when he was unsure of how fans would react. He says the tune “really took life” when they began performing it on the road.

Check out the video clip above to hear Hunt talk about the beard (RIP), and the beginning stages of the new album.

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