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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: April 2017

From a Texas songbird with a sly sense of humor to a Tennessee singer proud of his drawl

Delta Rae
10
David McClister1/10

Delta Rae

Sounds Like: Harmony-drenched Southern pop-rock with slick production and giant hooks

For Fans of: Little Big Town, the Lumineers, Grace Potter

Why You Should Pay Attention: Durham, North Carolina six-piece Delta Rae have been regional favorites for years, drawing enthusiastic crowds at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Now the band is signed to the Valory Music Co. (under Big Machine Label Group), having just released a four-song EP titled A Long and Happy Life. So far label life doesn't seem to have changed the group's sound too drastically, though they have adopted a slicker production style that should make these new tunes more radio-ready. The infectious pop of the EP's title track will please Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum fans alike, with just enough of the band's jam roots to reach the festival crowd.

They Say: "Our first single, 'A Long and Happy Life,' was inspired by my experience working as a caretaker to a Southern author named Reynolds Price," says singer Ian Hölljes. "Reynolds was 76 when I met him and had been in a wheelchair for 25 years, the result of radiation therapy that saved his life from cancer. I lived in his home for a year and assisted in every aspect of his daily life and work as a writer. He taught me what it looked like to be a professional artist and to overcome incredible hardships to pursue the work you love. That spirit infuses a lot of what inspires Delta Rae's music and is at the heart of what we understand country music to be about."

Hear for Yourself: Massive harmonies and bright, soulful vocals make "A Long and Happy Life" the kind of windows-down song that becomes the soundtrack to summer. B.M.