10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: February 2018

From the blue-collar twang of Pat Reedy to the easygoing country-pop of Brown & Gray

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Dead Horses
David E. Jackson4/10

Dead Horses

Sounds Like: Smoky vocals, cinematic lyrics and rustic instrumentation that draws on bluegrass, gospel, country, folk and Americana

For Fans of: Gillian Welch and David Rawlings; early Bob Dylan; the earthy sense of place conjured up by writers like John Steinbeck and Walt Whitman

Why You Should Pay Attention: My Mother the Moon, the forthcoming album from folk duo Dead Horses, is a beautifully uncluttered collection of songs that lives somewhere between the church, the field, the back porch and the library. Lead singer and principle songwriter Sarah Vos grew up a pastor's kid but was handed a harsh reality when her family was expelled from the church because her siblings were struggling with mental illness. As a songwriter, Vos has taken her individual experiences and tried to convey the universality of it all. "While a lot of our new songs are combinations of empathy for myself or my memory of myself from childhood, they all acknowledge some of the most basic human emotions like love, compassion, and loss," she says. My Mother the Moon was recorded live in Nashville and was produced by Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo), who also produced the band's previous album, Cartoon Moon. Dead Horses have toured with Trampled by Turtles and Mandolin Orange, but will be kicking off their own headlining run at the end of March, just prior to the April release of their LP.

They Say: "When I started writing this new record, I found that many of the lyrics I had been journaling were partially political in nature and touched on empathy for the current modern climate of people," says Vos. "The themes that emerged were informed by our travels and experiencing different cultures and communities firsthand. I feel fortunate to have gotten to travel to a lot of rural places because there's so much to be learned there. A lot of My Mother The Moon is a love song to the people who shared their stories with us. I think that's why I'm so drawn to folk music – it's geared towards communities singing together and not necessarily about the nuance of every individual note. Once a song is formed, it can be reborn in every performance."

Hear for Yourself: Partially inspired by Robert Frost’s poem "Birches," "Swinger in the Trees" balances somber elements against a spirit-lifting finger-picked guitar. W.H.

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