10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: August 2017

From a singer-songwriter who mixes girl-group harmonies with Countrypolitan strings to a disciple of Keith Urban who loves the loop pedal

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Jason Wilber
10
5/10

Jason Wilber

Sounds Like: Guitar-forward modern alt-country with thoughtful lyrics, plaintive vocals and a tastefully executed penchant for Bakersfield flourishes

For Fans of: the Jayhawks, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Steelism

Why You Should Pay Attention: Jason Wilber has a pretty killer day job playing guitar and producing records for none other than John Prine. When he's not playing with Prine (or other luminaries like Willie Nelson), he's working on his own music, which finds the little-trod common ground between Nineties-influenced alt-country and modern Americana. His new album Reaction Time lives in that space, which offers Wilber plenty of room to show off his knack for unorthodox arrangements and, of course, his guitar chops.

He Says: "When music is really doing its job, it provides a context in which you can let your emotions and memories kind of roam free for a time. So when you listen to Reaction Time, I hope it gives you that space to roam. Much of our lives are dominated now by logical things like computers and schedules and rules and plans. I think music provides some relief from that." Of working with Prine, Wilber adds, "John Prine is an enigma. I don’t think you could just do what he does or act like him and expect to achieve similar results. He is just being himself, but he’s a very unusual person. The paradox is that while John is a brilliant, one-of-a-kind artist, he’s also someone you can just go have a beer and shoot pool with. Maybe he’ll tell you all about a fishing trip he just took, and it will probably be the best fishing trip story you’ll ever hear."

Hear for Yourself: "Heaven" features songwriter and Prine collaborator Iris DeMent, and shows off Wilber's easy way with an old-school country duet. B.M.

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