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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: June 2017

From a Berklee grad with a knack for ballads to a crooner inspired by Reba and R&B

This month’s list includes two harmony-heavy bands, one working in modern-country, the other inspired by the Grateful Dead. There’s also a pop-minded vocalist who was reared on R&B and rock, and a piano-ballad chanteuse. Here are the 10 new country and Americana artists you need to hear right now. 

Ingrid Andress

Riley Taylor

Ingrid Andress

Sounds Like: Piano ballads and a bottle of wine; country soul with an L.A. sheen

For Fans of: Rihanna, Sam Hunt, Faith Hill

Why You Should Pay Attention: Raised in Colorado, Ingrid Andress traveled the country with her father, who worked as a trainer for the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. She seemed destined to pursue sports herself, but passed on playing volleyball in college for a vocal scholarship at Berklee College of Music. There, Andress’ songwriting caught the attention of one of her instructors, hit songwriter Kara DioGuardi, who signed her to her publishing house. The Lady Gaga fan won the Unsigned Only Music contest for her song “Footprints” and went on to score song placements with pop stars like Charli XCX and Akon. Andress’ own music, however, leans toward pop-friendly country ballads.

She Says: “Even though the stuff I do is country, because country to me is the place where I feel most fulfilled, I love stepping into L.A. and New York with all these extreme personalities and have to take them on and write for them. That’s also a part of me. I consider myself a pop songwriter, but as far as I am as a person or artist, I’m nothing like Lady Gaga. I love the stories and songs, and country really supports that, which is why I like it.”

Hear for Yourself: Debut single “Stranger” is a soulful, stripped-down ballad about remorse and yearning to make the same mistake twice. J.G. 

Ryan Griffin

Jim Cook

Ryan Griffin

Sounds Like: Able-voiced country-pop, performed by a mainstream-ready Millennial who grew up listening to Reba, R&B and rock & roll

For Fans of: Chris Young, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett

Why You Should Pay Attention: Before launching his solo career with this year’s Sake of the Summer, Griffin climbed the country charts as a songwriter, penning Kelsea Ballerini’s hit single “Dibs” with his future producer, Josh Kerr. Sake of the Summer refocuses the spotlight not only on Griffin’s writing chops, but on his elastic voice, which delivers familiar storylines from the country catalog – high-school summers, young love and the guilty thrill of downing your first beer – with equal parts poppy punch and R&B swagger. This fall, he’ll hit the road with fellow newcomer Michael Tyler on a coast-to-coast tour.

He Says: “I’m the youngest of three boys, so I didn’t get to select what was on the radio while we were young and riding in my mom’s car. It was always country music, and I loved it, but then I got my own boombox in middle school and discovered Brian McKnight, Usher and K-Ci & JoJo. I used to sit in my room and mimic Brian McKnight’s vocal runs. That was where everything intersected for me – this combination of R&B and soul and country. Later, when Keith Urban came out with ‘You’ll Think of Me,’ I listened to the song and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it. I can actually do this.'”

Hear for Yourself: “Woulda Left Me Too” is a delayed confession, with Griffin crooning his apologies to a former flame long after the fire has burned out. R.C.

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