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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Haley & Michaels
Jon-Paul Bruno5/10

Haley & Michaels

Sounds Like: Taking the world on, one country power ballad at a time, with your musical and real-life ride-or-die

For Fans of: Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Fleetwood Mac

Why You Should Pay Attention: Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels grew up a few miles away from each other in Northern California, but they didn't meet until 2012 when their bassist – who played in both their solo projects – introduced them in Nashville. Though Haley had taken her cue from pop singers like Sheryl Crow and Michaels led a classic-rock band, they bonded over a shared love of country music. Joining creative forces as Haley & Michaels, the pair's collaboration soon turned romantic ("Somewhere in the middle of writing a breakup song," Haley says with a laugh), and in 2015 they were married. Having released a handful of power ballad-worthy singles that landed them gigs with Sam Hunt and Brett Eldredge and on NBC's Today show, they garnered a fresh buzz last fall with their topical anthem "Me Too." Newly signed to Sony, their debut LP is due out this summer.

They Say: "Our marriage and relationship has brought out the positive side of love in our songwriting. Sad songs have always been our favorite, but for something like our wedding song, that definitely wouldn't have come out of us if we hadn't been engaged. It doesn't ever feel like work to us because this is both of our dreams and we're so fortunate to share that together," Haley says. Adds Michaels, "We have a really open conversation as artists that has enabled us to go deep and write about real life. We're best friends, and when you're best friends you can have real conversations and write about real things."

Hear for Yourself: "All Out," Haley & Michaels' latest single, is a pop-forward, stadium-sized blast of positivity that encapsulates the couple's dialogue-in-harmony duet style. J.G.

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