Sounds Like: Meticulous, modern country pop, influenced equally by Southern storytelling and R&B production
For Fans of: Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Kelly Clarkson
Why You Should Pay Attention: Named after Emmylou Harris, White was raised by songwriting parents in Baltimore, with the sounds of the city's two main radio stations – one playing country music, the other blasting R&B – filling the family home. After studying voice at Berklee School of Music, she found her way to Nashville, turning the genre-jumping sounds of her childhood into songs about love's victories and missteps. Her debut EP, Emma White, doubles down on a contemporary approach to country music, with acoustic instruments, hip-hop loops and pop production all sharing the same space. The songs have racked up more than 1.5 million digital streams – an impressive number for an artist who remains proudly independent.
She Says: "I've always loved Justin Timberlake's first solo album, because he made great pop music out of organic sounds and acoustic instruments," explains White, who finds a similar balance with the moody, minor key "My Ex." "The song builds this bridge between country instrumentation and an almost hip-hop-sounding beat. There's pedal steel in it, but also an urban loop, and it feels so natural to me."
Hear for Yourself: Built on groove and spacey guitars, "My Ex" finds White turning down a suitor whose charm only seems to bring up bad memories. R.C.