10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: September 2017

From a country-folk prodigy with an affinity for Appalachia to a soulful, smooth operator from Louisiana

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Penny & Sparrow
Daniel N Johnson5/10

Penny & Sparrow

Sounds Like: Unplugged folk music for Sunday mornings, quiet evenings and all the fragile moments in between, punctuated by two harmonized voices and one acoustic guitar

For Fans of: Bon Iver, Iron & Wine's Our Endless Numbered Days, Elliot Smith's bedroom recordings

Why You Should Pay Attention: With two members, Penny & Sparrow can barely fill the stages they'll be playing this fall, during the group's headlining tour in support of the newly released Wendigo. That hasn't stopped bandmates Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke from filling venues with gorgeous, whisper-soft Americana since 2010. Live, the pair's deadpan humor adds some levity to an otherwise somber show – a move that brings to mind another acoustic duo, the Civil Wars, whose John Paul White produced Penny & Sparrow's previous album Let a Lover Drown You. With this year's self-produced Wendigo, the guys chart their own flight, mixing Baxter's husky huff – a voice cut from the same crooner's cloth as Ray Lamontagne's – with songs about romance, religion and the rush of staring down your deepest fears.

They Say: "Our songs are definitely heavier than our banter," admits Jahnke, who handles the band's guitar duties. "Whenever Andy and I can make each other laugh, it helps bring some lightheartedness to the show. Luckily, that's who we naturally are." Baxter agrees, adding, "We've had our fair share of playing for six people at the Jade Lounge in Oregon, but as we've grown more comfortable onstage, the audiences have grown too. And besides, the confused look on people's faces when you vacillate between humorous banter and depressing music is worth the ticket price alone."

Hear for Yourself: "Double Hearts" casts its own soft spell with Beatles-worthy chord changes and a falsetto-fueled chorus. R.C.

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