10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: August 2017

From a singer-songwriter who mixes girl-group harmonies with Countrypolitan strings to a disciple of Keith Urban who loves the loop pedal

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Carson McHone

Carson McHone

Sounds Like: The bridge between Texas twang and Tennessee country, occupied by a road warrior who's spent plenty of time in both states

For Fans of: Amanda Shires, Tift Merritt, Elizabeth Cook

Why You Should Pay Attention: In a city full of transplants, McHone is a rare Austin native, having first hit the barroom stages of her hometown at 16 years old. "People call us unicorns," she says of her local roots. On her still-untitled follow-up to 2015's Goodluck Man, though, McHone looks beyond the Lone Star State, taking inspiration from the road – where she plays more than 150 shows a year – as well as the Tennessee capital. Recorded in Nashville with longtime Spoon producer Mike McCarthy, the new album promises to be fuller and fresher-sounding, leaving throwback honky-tonk music to McHone's contemporaries and, instead, fully embracing the modern.

She Says: McHone has a mutual appreciation for the old-school titans of Texas country, with Ray Wylie Hubbard recruiting her as a duet partner for his song "Chick Singer Badass Rockin" in 2015. Even so, she's ready to create her own legend. "I'm pushing beyond the acoustic-guitar-songwriter world," she says of her upcoming album. "That's where I started, and I've definitely gone through my throwback honky-tonk phrase, back when I wanted to be George Jones. But my interests are growing. My style is changing. And with it, my sound is becoming a bit removed from the alt-roots bar scene."

Hear for Yourself: "How 'Bout It" is a piano-ballad heartbreaker that highlights McHone's winsome voice. R.C.

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