10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: March 2016

From a country Ed Sheeran to a protégée of Willie Nelson

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Jason Myers4/10


Sounds Like: A country kid with an affinity for urban cool

For Fans of: Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt's blend of country, pop and rhythmic flavors

Why You Should Pay Attention: On his six-song debut EP, the Oklahoma native deploys an R&B-influenced sound that is fast becoming popular. The indie artist also has a fan in Vince Gill, with whom he co-wrote the gut-wrenching ballad "I Can't Do This" for Gill's latest album Down to My Last Bad Habit.

They Say: Brennin's influences range from Gill ("I own every record and know every nuance of his vocals and guitar playing") to Michael Jackson ("I used to sleep in the white glove") to the Eagles ("I named my son Henley") and tries to blend those styles. He's encouraged by Hunt's success at mashing up sounds, especially since they share something important: a name. "My legal first name is Samuel, so my full name is Samuel Brennin Hunt," he says with a laugh, noting they are not related. Brennin, who has also appeared on the ABC drama Nashville and on the 2011 season of X Factor, says "I'm a huge fan of his because he has opened the door for people like me —  I'm not your typical country male vocalist."

Hear for Yourself: Laid-back first single "Lose My Cool" in which the GQ-suave narrator is undone by a lovely lady. S.R.

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