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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: April 2017

From a Texas songbird with a sly sense of humor to a Tennessee singer proud of his drawl

A Texas chanteuse inspired by Selena and mariachi music, a Tennessee songwriter damn proud of the way he talks and a Brooklyn artist influenced by Cypress Hill and Gram Parsons who expertly marries hip-hop and string music make up this month’s installment of new country and Americana artists you need to hear right now.

Michael Tyler

Sounds Like: Mainstream country hits-to-be, written and sung by the same Millennial who penned Dierks Bentley’s “Somewhere on a Beach”

For Fans of: Chris Young, Thomas Rhett, the poppy side of the country-pop divide

Why You Should Pay Attention: Raised in the slow-moving railroad town of Thayer, Missouri, Tyler was discovered at 13 years old by Michael Knox, Jason Aldean’s producer. What began as a long-distance mentorship turned into a proper partnership five years later, when Knox signed his protégé to a publishing deal with Peermusic. Tyler’s been a busy man since then, co-writing tunes for Bentley, Aldean, LoCash and Kelsea Ballerini. With this spring’s 317, he steps out of the writing room and into the spotlight, making his solo debut with 11 songs rooted in the modern trends of country radio. Knox produced the project, beefing up Tyler’s sound with hard-rock guitars, vocoders and other mainstream moves.

He Says: “My first concert was Poison and Cinderella. I’ve always loved Eighties rock, and it’s had a big influence on what I do, because Knox likes those big drums and big guitars. I grew up listening to John Mayer too, and you can hear that influence on ‘They Can’t See.’ I didn’t want all the songs to sound like they came from the same record. I wanted them to be different, because that’s what I’m going after in the writers’ room. I write a different song every time.”

Hear for Yourself: A close cousin of Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man,” “They Can’t See” is a laid-back, lovesick salute to a woman whose real beauty lies far beneath the skin. R.C.

Paul Moore


Sounds Like: A continental spin on 1970s California folk-rock, fronted by a songwriter whose guitar chops match his storytelling skills

For Fans of: Jackson Browne, Dawes, Gold-era Ryan Adams

Why You Should Pay Attention: Although technically a Nashville resident, Matthew Szlachetka doesn’t spend much time at home, logging upwards of 200 shows a year. Those travels play a central role on this summer’s Heart of My Hometown, a collection of road-dog roots-rockers and Americana ballads inspired by the people (and places) he’s left behind in the rearview mirror. A soundtrack for both the highway and the heartland, the album features tasteful production from David Bianco – the Grammy-winning studio hand behind records by Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams – and plenty of six-string swagger from Szlachetka, who handles all of the project’s guitar leads.

He Says: “If this album came out in the Seventies, you’d say it was a rock & roll record. These days, you’d probably call it Americana. We didn’t want to use a lot of guitar pedals on Heart of My Hometown. We didn’t clutter up the sound. The idea was to keep ourselves in check, so these songs could really speak for themselves.”

Hear for Yourself: Co-written with Jamie Kent, Heart of my Hometown‘s title track finds the singer bidding farewell to his birthplace and striking out for someplace new. R.C.

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