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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Stephen Carey
Daniel Shippey3/10

Stephen Carey

Sounds Like: A Florida native's physical (and musical) relocation to Nashville, combining the sounds of his home turf — shoreline swagger, summery pop hooks, the amped-up guitars of Southern rock — with Tennessee mojo.

For Fans of: Uncle Kracker's country makeover, Florida Georgia Line's beachy bounce, Jake Owen's "Days of Gold" played at half-speed

Why You Should Pay Attention: Carey kicked off his career in Jacksonville, Florida, opening up for traveling headliners like Frankie Ballard and Thomas Rhett. Hungry for bigger opportunities, he moved to Nashville in 2014, where a daytime gig as a demo singer eventually brought him face-to-face with the Cadillac Three's Neil Mason. Bound by a shared appreciation for bold, envelope-pushing country-pop, the two became fast friends. They join forces on "Summer Cool," Carey's kickoff single. Written by Mason and anchored by a beat-heavy sound that's not far afield from hip-hop, the track has already become a viral hit on Spotify, with more than 100,000 streams during its first of release. A proper full-length is in the works.

He Says: "We've got some beach-influenced tunes and some darker, rock-driven songs, which is a huge part of my history back in Jacksonville. I'm learning it's OK for an artist to not just be 'the beach guy' or 'the leather-jacket rock guy,' because you can be both. That's Jacksonville. You've got the gritty downtown, the riverside and the beach, then you drive 20 minutes and you're in the country. That's the sound of where I'm from, and it's a reflection of me."

Hear for Yourself: "Summer Cool" brews up its own recipe for warmer weather: equal parts drum-machine percussion, banjo-fueled groove and Carey's laid-back vocal. R.C.

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