10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: July 2017

From a Kentucky singer-songwriter produced by Sturgill Simpson, to a London duo with a flair for mesmerizing harmonies

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Alex Williams

Alex Williams

Sounds Like: Somewhere between Jennings and Jones; also, Jamey Johnson's "Between Jennings and Jones"

For Fans of: Cody Jinks, Chris Stapleton, classic country baritones

Why You Should Pay Attention: Indiana-born Alex Williams quit school at 18 for a gig on Nashville's lower Broadway, playing traditional country at tourist draw Tootsie's. Looking back, he knows that probably wasn't the smartest move. "I was like, 'fuck, man,'" he says. "At 18 you make stupid decisions, like thinking the key to success is Tootsie's?" Indeed, not many dreams these days are realized at the local honky-tonks, but Williams kept going, playing Waylon and Willie while writing his own material. A few years later, he left his band behind and caught the attention of Big Machine's Scott Borchetta, who signed him to a deal. His debut LP, Better Than Myself, will be out August 11th: produced by Julian Raymond (Glen Campbell), it's a bit of classic country candy for the purists feeling lost in a sea of pop influences.

He Says: "I knew that I wanted to make a really Seventies-influenced, but with a modern twist, country album. Though keeping in mind that we're not in the Seventies anymore. It turned out really cool – I've always loved the quirky Seventies Austin, Texas, vibe. Some of my family lives down in Texas and I have a passion for that culture and the music and everything about it. I wanted to channel the spacey, laid-back country approach."

Hear for Yourself: "Old Tattoo," a song written for Williams' grandfather after he passed away, fills a much-needed void in the venue of tender but tough country ballads. M.M.

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