10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: May 2018

From the vocal knockout Tenille Townes to the Garth Brooks-endorsed Randall King

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Izaak Opatz

Izaak Opatz

Sounds Like: Quirky Americana crossed with the indie-pop sensibility of the Shins, as performed by a Montana mountain man

For Fans of: Warren Zevon, Jonny Fritz, Jeff Tweedy

Why You Should Pay Attention: Opatz is one of a kind, an eccentric singer-songwriter whom you not only connect with, but root for as he tries in vain to sort out his love life in songs he describes as "Nora Ephron Rom-Com-earnestness with a sense of humor." His latest album Mariachi Static (which takes its title from a lyric in Zevon's "Carmelita"), produced by Malachi DeLorenzo, is an easygoing listen, driven by Opatz's sublime way with a lyric. He's opened for Langhorne Slim and James McMurtry, and is currently on the road with Traveller, which counts Opatz's erstwhile mentor, and fellow Montanan, Jonny Fritz as a member. They met after Opatz rented a room from him in Nashville after exchanging emails. "It might have been a disaster – I had only an impression of him from his oddball songs and wild internet presence, but luckily, we hit it off and have been good friends ever since."

He Says: "I studied Creative Writing at the University of Montana in Missoula and have kept up with writing as a way to get my insides out, where I can make sense of them. It's a splattery, less precise form of echolocation for me ... Plus, it's fun, and the easiest way I've found to reach common ground with people. The right metaphor, resonating deeply between two people, can create a truer mutual understanding than anything else."

Hear for Yourself: "Got to Me Since" is a surprisingly upbeat jam about being unable to get over a former lover, especially when you're, as Opatz expertly describes, "root-canal sensitive." J.H.

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