The February edition of Rolling Stone Country's Artists You Need to Know includes singer-songwriters like Ryan Hurd, Tara Thompson and Steve Moakler, as well as bands like LANco and Mount Moriah. Each artist brings a unique spin to the country and Americana genres.
"People are given the freedom to make their own space these days," says Hurd, a Kalamazoo, Michigan, native who has written the single "Lonely Tonight" for Blake Shelton and who widens country's scope on his EP Panorama. "Everyone is forging their own identity, and it seems like Nashville is really excited about it. It feels like we woke up the day after [the CMA Awards] and everything flipped on its head. It gives us the freedom to be the artists we want to be."
For Thompson, who counts Loretta Lynn as family, it's a freedom to unapologetically be herself. "When I first started writing with other people," she recalls, "I'd go in and say, ‘All right, here’s the deal: It’s gotta be really country, no pop, and there can’t be no man-bashing. Because if anyone is cheating, it’s gonna be me, by God."
See the rest of Rolling Stone Country's Artists You Need to Know here.