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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: November 2015

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

Maren Morris and Tucker Beathard

Maren Morris and Tucker Beathard are among Rolling Stone Country's 10 Artists You Need to Know.

Maren Morris: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images; Tucker Beathard: Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic

The latest installment of Rolling Stone Country's Artists You Need to Know features the über-talented offspring of two famous country names, a barnstorming band of heartland rockers and a Canadian singer-songwriter who, while far from a "new" artist, is poised to have his biggest success yet. Here's 10 acts you'd be wise to check out, be it on record or live onstage. 

Granger Smith

Courtesy Broken Bow Records

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

Ryan Beaver

Ryan Beaver

Sounds Like: High-octane coffee-tonk: introspective, heartland country that works in the honky-tonk and the coffeehouse.

For Fans of: Will Hoge, Dierks Bentley, if Kip Moore did MTV's Unplugged

Why You Should Pay Attention: When native Texan Ryan Beaver released his soft-twanging, soulful second LP Constant in 2011, country music was on the cusp of a tidal shift —  a "Cruise," if you will — toward party-vibed bro-rockers that left little room for his soul-searching songs. Now in the wake of Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and other voices of the genre who fuse traditionalism with contemporary craft, there's plenty of space for Beaver. His single"Dark," from his upcoming LP Rx, stakes his claim with Springsteen grit, an infectious hook and roaring instrumentals that don't just part the cloud hanging over his head; they explode it.

He Says: "The whole process of making this record was the first thing I've done in three or four years," Beaver says 0f the genesis of Rx's thought-provoking album title. "And it was so much fun, and so therapeutic, that I didn't realize how good it was for me. These songs serve as a prescription for getting excited about music and life. And if they are like medicine for me, maybe they will be for the listeners."

Hear for Yourself: Written to make amends with a string of deaths and disappointments, "Dark" turns loss into gain — and packs a powerful, anthemic punch. Marissa R. Moss

Dylan LeBlanc

Dylan Leblanc photos for Cautionary Tale LP

Abraham Rowe

Dylan LeBlanc

Sounds Like: A twentysomething Bible Belter whose music takes its cues from both sides of the pond, mixing the swoon of modern-day Americana with the Brit-folk swirl of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass

For Fans of: Ryan Adams, First Aid Kit, James Bay, Jim James' EP tribute to George Harrison

Why You Should Pay Attention: Signed to Rough Trade Records before he was 20 years old, LeBlanc cut his teeth duetting with Emmylou Harris and opening for Bruce Springsteen. He sounds older, wiser and considerably warmer on his upcoming album, Cautionary Tale (out January 15th), which finds the Muscle Shoals native working with two hometown heroes: the Civil Wars' John Paul White and the Alabama Shakes' Ben Tanner.

He Says: "I wanted this record to move a little more than my earlier records. I was tired of writing 'sad bastard songs.' I wanted to write about what's going on in the world today, instead of lamenting on the past, and I thought, 'A groove and a powerful message go a long way.' So we focused on our rhythm section and added a lot of strings, and we wound up with a pretty honest record."

Hear for Yourself: The ethereal "Cautionary Tale" evokes Ryan Adams at his most crooning; it's roots music for rainy days. Andrew Leahey

Corb Lund

Scott Council

Corb Lund

Sounds Like: A roots-driven singer-songwriter who balances wry humor, erudite observation, and poignant lyrics in the vein of Steve Earle or Loudon Wainwright III

For Fans of: Earle, Wainwright, Fred Eaglesmith

Why You Should Pay Attention: Since he's been making records for 20 years, Lund isn't exactly a secret — in fact, he's an award-winning star in his native Canada. "I always make jokes that we're going to win the 'newest oldest band' award,'" he says with a laugh. He's progressively been making more noise in the U.S. over the years and his stellar new album Things That Can't Be Undone — produced in Nashville by the in-demand Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson) — poised to help the singer-songwriter reach an even wider audience.

He Says: "I get bored with records that are the same throughout, especially when it's love song after love song. That just doesn't do it for me," says Lund, who explores a wide range of styles on his latest LP, as it hopscotches from serious mood pieces like "Sadr City" — a true story told to him by a soldier after a show — to the rockabilly of "Alt Berliner Blues."

Hear for Yourself: The Johnny Paycheck-like honky-tonker "Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues," co-written by Turnpike Troubadours' Evan Felker, visualizes the nightmare scenario of every working musician: going back to your day job. Sarah Rodman

Olivia Lane

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 27: Recording Artist Olivia Lane performs during the New Faces of Country Cocktail Reception Showcase during CRS 2015 on February 27, 2015 at the in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Ge?.^(üçc<”ÿ

Terry Wyatt/Getty Imagesr

Olivia Lane

Sounds Like: A classic-country enthusiast who leads with her sass and robust voice

For Fans of: Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt

Why You Should Pay Attention: A self-described "big fish in a little pond," the 24-year-old Houston native left home at 16, hell-bent on living in an entertainment capital with more opportunities. Lane landed in Los Angeles, where she attended college, before uprooting to Nashville two years ago to hone her chops around town and open for the likes of Wynonna and Kip Moore. Lane has already put out two EPs buoyed by spirited kiss-offs such as "You Part 2" and recently released an acoustic mixtape, Heart Unlocked, available for free download through her website. "I just have an attitude of, 'Why not?'" she says. "No dream feels too big for me right now."

She Says: "I love a lot of different types of music, but honestly it was the storytelling that drew me to country. From a very young age, I knew I was going to be an artist of some sort. I did acting, singing, and guitar and piano lessons. I didn't figure out what I wanted to do until I went to college and took songwriting classes. And it's a great time to be in country music. You have someone like Sam Hunt, but you also have Kacey Musgraves. There's room for all of it.”

Hear for Yourself: The radio-ready "Lightning," from Heart Unlocked, pushes banjo to the fore before club beats raise the roof. James Reed