10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: May 2016

From an unapologetic cowboy singer to a dazzling chanteuse-wordsmith

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Darrin Bradbury

Darrin Bradbury

Sounds Like: Off-color folk music celebrating the heartbreak and humor of the American underbelly, with songs about roadkill, star-crossed junkies, Daffy Duck and Danzig

For Fans of: Shel Silverstein, John Prine, Cory Branan

Why You Should Pay Attention: "I'm a product of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey," says Bradbury, a self-described "redneck noir" songwriter whose parents met while working in the circus. Such strange-but-true stories helped inspire his upcoming album, Elmwood Park: A Slightly Melodic Audiobook — a set of acoustic travelogues from a hard-touring songwriter who, as befits the son of a former professional clown, knows the value of a good punchline. Tim Easton, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Sturgill Simpson's right-hand man, guitarist Laur Joamets, all make appearances, too.

He Says: "I wanted the album to feel like a collection of short stories, which is what my live show feels like anyway. There's always a lot of talking, a lot of inside jokes, a little bit of a shitshow and songs about characters I've met across the country."

Hear for Yourself: "True Love," where Bradbury likens the initial rush — and eventual destruction — of a doomed relationship to a methamphetamine high. Andrew Leahey

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