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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Randall King

Randall King

Sounds Like: Making it to Amarillo by morning, with stars in your eyes and last night still on your breath

For Fans of: George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson

Why You Should Pay Attention: Randall King's true-blue take on neo-traditionalist country music is no gimmick: It's the music he grew up with and, for King, life is all about laying down and embracing your roots. Born in Amarillo, he comes from three generations of west Texas hay farmers and truckers, and would have likely followed the same path had he not taken to singing at a young age. Though he fell in with songwriters frequenting the Blue Light in Lubbock, King sounds more like his heroes than his Texas country peers, and those icons have taken notice. "This kid is what country music is all about," raved Garth Brooks recently, giving his endorsement to King's self-titled LP, having met up in person after being impressed by King's demoes. Released last month, King's album was cut with studio ringers including Bobby Terry and produced by King, who studied sound engineering in college, himself.

He Says: "Every time I go home I get that same feeling, it just gives you butterflies. Like when you're a kid watching that west Texas sunset, watching your dog run away for three miles. It's your roots, and your roots sink deep there," says King, who signed a songwriting contract with BMG in February. "There are a lot of pieces of my family in that record. Every song I write I try to make sure it reflects who I am as best as possible. Without a good song you have no product to begin with."

Hear for Yourself: "Tuggin' at My Heartstrings" mixes boot-scootin' boogie with the brash and the bawdy, along with some clever wordplay. J.G.

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