10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: June 2017

From a Berklee grad with a knack for ballads to a crooner inspired by Reba and R&B

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Ruby Force
10
Casey Curry6/10

Ruby Force

Sounds Like: Progressive country with an indie flair, like Jenny Lewis' twangier cousin

For Fans of: Nikki Lane, Kacey Musgraves, Aubrie Sellers

Why You Should Pay Attention: Ruby Force, otherwise known as singer-songwriter Erin McLaughlin, lives up to her vivid stage name. On her forthcoming debut album Evolutionary War, she paints colorful tales using a broad sonic palette, drawing from country, Americana, rock and indie pop for a sound that lands somewhere between Rilo Kiley and Nikki Lane. While some tracks – the single "Cowboy" – dabble in retro influences, Force's music is, like Lane's and Kacey Musgraves', a glimpse at the promising direction in which left-of-center country music is headed.

She Says: "Evolutionary War is sort of a collection, like a box of photos you find from a certain period of life. It strings together like a narrative essentially, about how I love," McLaughlin says. "If these songs can find their way into people's hearts, not to mention playlists, I would feel like I’ve accomplished something of eternal value. It would also be wicked sweet if this record could bring something tangible back home: an audience, some discourse, that daily bread. Then I'd just do it again and again."

Hear for Yourself: "Ode to Vic Chesnutt," premiering below in advance of Evolutionary War's June 22nd release date, pays homage to the beloved late Athens songwriter and to "life spinning like a wheel" with sweet harmonies and an optimistic, driving beat. B.M.

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