10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: March 2017

From a soulful vocalist who evokes John Mayer to the fiddle-playing protégée of Jack White

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Lillie Mae

Lillie Mae

Sounds Like: Alison Krauss recording B-sides for Led Zeppelin IV

For Fans of: First Aid Kit, Son Volt and the spine-chilling fiddle (and voice to match) of Jack White's "Temporary Ground"

Why You Should Pay Attention: Having White champing at the bit to produce your record is a problem that most people would die for, but it's the story of how Lillie Mae (born Lillie Mae Rische) made her first solo LP, Forever and Then Some, out April 14th on Third Man. Playing fiddle since age seven – often alongside her two sisters and brother in the band Jypsi, an institution at Nashville honky-tonk Layla's Bluegrass Inn – Rische became a member of White's touring crew and a vocal presence on tracks like Lazaretto's "Alone in My Home." One night, Mae gave White a sample of her own songs backstage, and he offered to help make her LP. On Forever, the product of that partnership, Mae ticks through evocative stories of love lost and gone wrong, viewing bluegrass and country through a melancholy, modern lens, something White and crew are masters at. Don't call it a breakup record, though. "I was definitely going through something," she says, "but aren't we all?"

She Says: "It's kind of a confusing place to be: I am a bluegrass fiddle player, but I'm also a songwriter ... The transition from fiddle player to songwriter was something that came across in these songs. I love playing guitar and singing, but there's not a whole lot of fiddle on the record. I could see myself writing some crazy fiddle stuff someday, but it isn't the main thing on this record."

Hear for Yourself: The haunting folk quiver of "Over the Hill and Through the Woods," about a relationship that's certainly no fairytale, features a "Free Bird"- style vamp. M.M.

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