10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: April 2018

From the power-country of Rachel Wammack to the dusty vibes of Kyle Daniel

Ben Danaher

Ben Danaher

Sounds Like: Soulful, arena-friendly country-rock with one foot in the honky-tonk and another in church, Saturday-night-to-Sunday-morning hanging in the balance

For Fans of: Jason Isbell, Parker Millsap, Ryan Bingham, plain-spoken blue-collar wisdom

Why You Should Pay Attention: Five years after taking up residence in Nashville, this 33-year-old Texan is looking to make major moves with his excellent full-length debut album, Still Feel Lucky, an impeccable collection of songs as emotionally thorny as they are catchy. In advance of the album's September release, this summer will take Danaher to Europe for the first time as a solo aritst on dates including June's Black Deer Festival in England with Jason Isbell and Iron & Wine. Still Feel Lucky makes for a terrific calling card, showing off Danaher's primal yowl on songs that came out of trying circumstances – most notably his brother's murder and father's death from cancer. He funded it by taking extra bartender shifts to pay for the recording, after he himself had quit drinking.

He Says: "Working in a bar was a daily reminder of how unpleasant you can get with your life. I'd see people every day who were just complete wrecks. I had also gotten to the point where I did not like who I was. After going through some really heavy family stuff, I just never had the chance to catch up emotionally. I'd kind of chosen that as my identity, gotten to be the sad guy. Then I went to live with my 94-year-old grandmother for three months. She'd lived through World War II, lost all her friends – and she'd still talk about how lucky she'd been. It was remarkable. That's where 'Still Feel Lucky' came from."

Hear for Yourself: Still Feel Lucky leads off with "Hell or Highwater," a song that kicks like a gathering storm, with a stripped-down semi-acoustic video that's just as powerful, thanks to producer Michael Webb's foreboding keyboards. D.M.