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

Thorp Jenson
10
8/10

Thorp Jenson

Sounds Like: A deeper, raspier-voiced Ryan Adams interpreting the riffs from the Rolling Stones' "Tumblin' Dice," with plenty of warm, heartland sheen

For Fans of: Tom Petty, Jared Deck, John Moreland's Big Bad Luv

Why You Should Pay Attention: If the name Thorp Jenson sounds silly, that's because it kind of is: the nom de plume for Virginia's Chris Ryan, it came to be after his bandmates started calling him "Thorp" to make a play on his particularly Ron Burgandy mustache. The name and the facial hair stuck, as did Ryan's love of classic Southern-focused rock & roll that, if released these days, would be – let's face it – dubbed Americana. A staple on the Richmond, Virginia, scene, Ryan made the rounds in bands, weddings and anywhere he could exercise his guitar skills, until deciding to buckle down and make an album. The forthcoming Odessa explores some vintage melodies and illustrative tales of life in the American heartland – with a heap of influence from the notably non-American Rolling Stones.

He Says: "I wanted to make a rock & roll record," says Jenson/Ryan. "That's what I was thinking about. So I submerged myself in a lot of the Rolling Stones, which isn't something I had necessarily listened to before. I listened to a ton of their catalogue, I read Keith [Richards'] book. I was trying to write a rock & roll album, and I had never even thought about 'Americana.' When people started calling what I do 'Americana,' I'm like, 'Huh, OK.' But I was listening to a British act to get me there."

Hear for yourself: Rather than rest on the confessional, Jenson/Ryan focuses on imaginative storytelling, something clear across the swampy vamps and Bruce Springsteen spit of "Oklahoma," a song about slinking away from the trail of some bad habits. M.M.

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