Sounds Like: Tammy Wynette on a trip to Whiskeytown, as unafraid of heavy twang and spitfire pedal steel as coffeehouse confessionals.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Waldon came to Nashville from Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky – a town that can count its residents on fingers and toes – to attend Belmont University, with a backpack full of Guy Clark records and denim to match. But the swiftest education came on the stages of local dive bars, where she found that people listened best when she sang honestly about the realities of her dirt-road upbringing. On her debut LP, The Goldmine, Waldon makes music like someone raised on both "White Lightnin'" and Wilco, tackling troubled pasts, cheatin' hearts and what happens when we don't all worship the same American dreams. "My daddy's gone to rehab/I'm just trying not to do the same," she sings before a rollercoaster Telecaster riff.
She Says: "I moved from a small town in Kentucky to this place where everyone is just like me," she says. "They all moved from their little place, too, and we live in this beautiful utopia. We're all country music freaks – nerds, really. But sometimes in Nashville it can be so easy to let other things get in the way. You have to try really hard to not get spoiled."
Hear for Yourself: The honky-tonk heartbreak of "One Time Again," where her voice gets raunchy and the tempo's even wilder than the boy who's done her wrong. By Marissa R. Moss