10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: January 2018

From a charismatic pop-country singer to the youngest major-label country artist since Tanya Tucker

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Paul Luc
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Steven Jonathan3/10

Paul Luc

Sounds Like: Rust Belt folk from a Pittsburgh native who realized he's better suited for singing blue-collar anthems than climbing the corporate ladder

For Fans of: Langhorne Slim, Cory Branan, Shakey Graves

Why You Should Pay Attention: Paul Luc was on the fast track to corporate-executive status when according to him, he woke up one day and said, "Screw it, I’m out." Ever since he's been honing a straight-talking knack for killer, deep-thinking turns of phrase like "Spitting into the wind, it's risky / I treat fate like I drink good whiskey / It doesn't need any fussin’ or fixin’ / I just leave it the hell alone." For his third album, Bad Seed (out February 9th), Luc booked a Nashville studio, gathered a group of then strangers, including former Sturgill Simpson band members Jefferson Crow and Laur Joamets, and hit "record" without rehearsing a single note. The resulting sound is just as raw and punchy as Luc's words, which in this case find him taking a hard look in the mirror. He questions everything from his own battles with anxiety to the root of his deepest desires – basically asking, "Am I a good guy, or a bad seed?"

He Says: "I didn't set out with any theme, but it just sort of surfaces with whatever state of mind you're in. On any kind of curve or spectrum you've got outliers of people who are just saintly, and people who are truly psychotic, but the rest of us are somewhere in the middle of this mix of good and bad things that make us up. For me, Bad Seed was a number of songs that take a look at myself and where I've been, people I've been with, and asking whether or not I carried myself the right way."

Hear for Yourself: Slightly off-kilter and supremely unsettled, "Restless Mind" opens the album with a testament to how anxiety can sabotage a relationship, propelled by acoustic guitar, whirring B3 organ and bluesy steel. C.P.

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