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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: August 2017

From a singer-songwriter who mixes girl-group harmonies with Countrypolitan strings to a disciple of Keith Urban who loves the loop pedal

Guitar heroes, astute songwriters and bluegrass experimentalists all appear on this month’s list. The sideman for John Prine ventures out on his own; an observant nomad mines her travel experiences in her songs; and a one-time headbanger turns his attention to string instruments. Here are the 10 new country and Americana artists you need to hear right now. 

Cavendish

Makayla Lynn

Sounds Like: Relaxed pop-country that’s heavier on the twang than the synths; think Colbie Caillat singing Sara Evans

For Fans of: Maddie & Tae, RaeLynn, the more innocent side of Kacey Musgraves

Why You Should Pay Attention: Still juggling high-school classes and frequent commutes to Nashville from her home in Nova Scotia, 16-year-old Makayla Lynn has been writing and performing since the ripe old age of eight, opening for artists like Carrie Underwood and Alabama and playing over 100 shows a year. As much informed by Alison Krauss as Maren Morris, Lynn – who co-wrote all but one of the songs on her sophomore LP, On a Dare and Prayer – straddles a refreshing line between modern pop-country and a style that evokes the nineties one-name queens (Faith, Shania, Trisha). Balancing the innocence of youth with snappy bursts of lyrical wit (“a good man is so hard to train” she quips on “That’s Why I Love You”), Lynn isn’t old school, but she’s not new wave either – leave it to a teenager to find a sweet spot in the middle.

She Says: “I always say that my age is my best friend and my worst enemy. Sometimes it’s a great thing, and I’m really lucky that I am 16 and I’m able to go around town and do this, and other times it can be difficult for people to take you seriously at a young age. People always ask, ‘Do you have to make time to be a kid?’ And I say, ‘This is me being a kid. I get to stay in resorts with huge pools and do something I love, while growing up.'”

Hear for Yourself: On “Joyride,” Lynn uses some infectious syncopation and versatile vocal inflections to surrender to the freedom of youth, while always remembering that every joyride has to end somewhere. M.M.

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