10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: May 2017

From a country-soul chanteuse to a hard-stomping band of Southern rockers

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Jo Smith
Weiss Eubanks 7/10

Jo Smith

Sounds Like: Soulful country pop with retro production, layered harmonies, and a touch of playfulness

For Fans of: Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Sixties girl groups

Why You Should Pay Attention: Formerly a major label country artist – as Joanna Smith, she released charting singles "Gettin' Married" and "Georgia Mud" – Jo Smith has returned with a new EP and some of country's biggest names in her corner. Shane McAnally co-produced her EP Introducing Jo Smith with Jesse Frasure, and the four-song set shows Smith following the soul-music footsteps of artists like Maren Morris. While her EP has been out since 2016, feel-good lead single "Old School Groove" was recently released to radio, just in time for the windows-down summer listening season.

She Says: Smith comes by her brand of country honestly, coming of age to the music that would eventually inform her solo output. "I grew up in South Georgia listening to my dad’s country and Motown records, and it was so important to me to blend those influences on my new EP," she says. "My single 'Old School Groove' sets the tone perfectly of who I am as an artist, and I'm so proud the world is getting to hear it."

Hear for Yourself: "Old School Groove" sounds just like its name implies: It's a laid-back groover with plenty of soul and Wall of Sound-style harmonies that harken back to the days of the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las. B.M.

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