10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: November 2015

From the rowdy son of a celebrated songwriter to a mesmerizing Texas spitfire

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Granger Smith
Courtesy Broken Bow Records5/10

Granger Smith

Sounds Like: Modern country pop broken into its base elements

For Fans of: Kenny Chesney, Cole Swindell, Michael Ray

Why You Should Pay Attention: Granger Smith will be identified as a newcomer by most country fans, but in reality he's been a underground star for over a decade, wracking up seven independent albums and millions of YouTube views (plus a dip-spitting, comedic alter-ego named Earl Dibbles Jr.). With a radio-friendly, modern-country sound and a clean-cut vocal presence, Smith's commitment to simplistic, über-relatable songs has attracted the attention of Broken Bow Records. His first major-label EP, 4X4, was released in May, peaking at Number Six on Billboard's country albums chart, and a full album is in the works. "I try to avoid that indie-rock mentality of 'I have a great idea but I don’t want anybody to really know what this is about unless they ask me,'" he says. "I don't get energy back from people when they hear [my songs] unless they are easily digestible, which I think ultimately is the essence of country music."

He Says: "'Backroad Song' was one of the first songs I wrote for the EP. It was one of the top ideas I had because it was the simplest. I thought, 'Well, what's worked in the past is just these little feel-good songs.' Sometimes [the characters] were getting into love or just getting out, and I just thought, 'What if I forget about all that extra stuff and just cut straight to the chase?'"

Hear for Yourself: Like the appetizer platter at your local sports bar, "Backroad Song" is a no-fuss take on a list of sure-to-please favorites — the freedom of the open road, the optimism of youth and carefree love. Chris Parton

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