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

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Szlachetka
10
Paul Moore10/10

Szlachetka

Sounds Like: A continental spin on 1970s California folk-rock, fronted by a songwriter whose guitar chops match his storytelling skills

For Fans of: Jackson Browne, Dawes, Gold-era Ryan Adams

Why You Should Pay Attention: Although technically a Nashville resident, Matthew Szlachetka doesn't spend much time at home, logging upwards of 200 shows a year. Those travels play a central role on this summer's Heart of My Hometown, a collection of road-dog roots-rockers and Americana ballads inspired by the people (and places) he's left behind in the rearview mirror. A soundtrack for both the highway and the heartland, the album features tasteful production from David Bianco – the Grammy-winning studio hand behind records by Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams – and plenty of six-string swagger from Szlachetka, who handles all of the project's guitar leads.

He Says: "If this album came out in the Seventies, you'd say it was a rock & roll record. These days, you'd probably call it Americana. We didn't want to use a lot of guitar pedals on Heart of My Hometown. We didn't clutter up the sound. The idea was to keep ourselves in check, so these songs could really speak for themselves."

Hear for Yourself: Co-written with Jamie Kent, Heart of my Hometown's title track finds the singer bidding farewell to his birthplace and striking out for someplace new. R.C.

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