10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: July 2017

From a Kentucky singer-songwriter produced by Sturgill Simpson, to a London duo with a flair for mesmerizing harmonies

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Tyler Childers
David McClister5/10

Tyler Childers

Sounds like: A raw look at the darker regions of modern-day Appalachia, where bluegrass is in the soul, but cocaine is in the blood

For Fans of: Sturgill Simpson, Dave Rawlings Machine, Jason Isbell – if he swapped the 400 Unit for Old Crow Medicine Show

Why You Should Pay Attention: Growing up in East Kentucky, Childers spent his youth and young adulthood learning the blue collar trades. He de-nailed boards for hardwood flooring; he worked odd landscaping jobs; he tried college, though it didn't stick. But music – shaped from a childhood spent listening to both Drive-By Truckers and Southern gospel – held the strongest gravitational pull. Childers built a solid fan base in his home state for his songs that melded a forlorn, Appalachian howl with more modern folk diarists, driven by the stories that surrounded him. It was enough to lure Simpson into producing his new LP, Purgatory, alongside Johnny Cash engineer David Ferguson, and the result is a stirring collection anchored by Childers' one-of-a-kind voice that's as crisp as a child's but breaks with the pain and knowledge of a weathered man.

He Says: "It's that bluegrass sound, but with a little bit more edge to it. It's something I'd want to listen to, sound-wise, growing up in this area. The Appalachian culture and the way the people in this region talk, the sayings they have, it all lends itself to good songs. Everything they say is a song line."

Hear ror Yourself: On "Whitehouse Road," Childers shoots a twangy groove deep in the pocket to tell a story about the hard life, where boredom is more dangerous than drugs and salvation's in a kiss, not a church sacrament. M.M.

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