10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: September 2018 - Rolling Stone
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10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: September 2018

From the breakout country-pop of Abby Anderson to the melting-pot sounds of Filmore

Abby Anderson, Filmore

Abby Anderson and Filmore are among the 10 new country and Americana artists you need to hear this month.

A progressive performer who draws comparisons to Sam Hunt, an empowering songwriter following in Kelsea Ballerini’s footsteps, and a vibey band of rockers making music fit for muscle-car stereos help make up our list of the must-hear country and Americana artists this month.

Zack Logan

Courtesy of Zack Logan

Zack Logan

Sounds Like: A songwriting voice from a bygone era, when arrangements were simple and the lyric was king

For Fans of: John Prine, Josh Ritter, Brent Cobb

Why You Should Pay Attention: Mississippi native Logan released his debut album, Raised by Wolves, in early August, which he recorded in Nashville at local studio mainstay Welcome to 1979. The album is full of story-songs in the tradition of Prine and Townes Van Zandt, a sound owing both to Logan’s love of classic Americana songwriting and to his own knack for spinning a phrase (or a name, in the case of standout track “Annalee”) into a three-minute world all its own. Logan has already toured Europe with fellow songwriter Brent Cobb, and once folks get wind of Raised by Wolves it won’t be long before he’s plotting his own headlining tours, too.

He Says: A devotee of Van Zandt, Prine and Robert Earl Keen, Logan says of his influences, “I love the way all three of those guys really paint a picture with their songs. Sometimes they leave them vague in interpretation so you have to find out what the song means specifically to you. Others are very specific. They make you feel like you’re right there in the song. It’s your own heart breaking, or you’re the one falling in love. They feel timeless. I want to send out those types of emotions through my own songs.”

Hear for Yourself: Logan wrote “Annalee” shortly after moving to Nashville, and the song bristles with the electric longing for a fresh start that often comes with putting down roots in a new place. B.M.

Anna St. Louis

Chantal Anderson/Courtesy of Grandstand

Anna St. Louis

Sounds Like: Folk music that conjures whispered musings and remote, serene streams

For Fans of: Karen Dalton, Neil Young at his bluesiest, John Fahey, Elizabeth Cotten

Why You Should Pay Attention: It was only in August that Anna St. Louis finally quit her job waiting tables. And with good reason: the Kansas City-raised, L.A.-based singer-songwriter, whose sweeping, finger-picked songs evoke scenes of pastoral serenity, landed a touring gig supporting Waxahatchee. “That feeling that the shoe could drop at any moment is probably going to linger for a long time,” she says, admitting she was caught off-guard by the overwhelmingly positive response she received to 2017’s First Songs, a cassette of spare, honest recordings released on her friend-collaborator Kevin Morby’s Mare Records. On October 12th, St. Louis releases her proper debut, If Only There Was a River, which expands upon her evolving sound, one she describes as “country-folk mixed with maybe some Neil Young vibes.” It also features some of her sharpest writing to date. “So long honey baby / you can’t set me free / so you must be going / but our time was sweet,” she sings with a greasy howl, sounding like a mellow Wanda Jackson on the haunting, blues-tinged “The Bells.”

She Says: “I’m just starting to find my comfort level with [performing],” says St. Louis, whose first gig was in August 2017. Shedding her stage fright, she admits, has been a gradual process. “Before my first show I was sick with nerves. But then as soon as it was over, I was like ‘I wanna do it again!’ It’s been kind of that same way for the past year. Hours before a show I’m always like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ And then I play the show and it feels really great and I’m like, ‘OK, that’s why I’m doing it!'”

Hear for Yourself: “Understand,” a sweet and slow-rolling plea for compassion, is all gracefully strummed acoustic guitar and cascading strings — the soundtrack to a time-lapse montage of a couple’s journey through life’s subtle alterations. D.H.

Abby Anderson

Chad Brady/Courtesy of Black River

Abby Anderson

Sounds Like: Vocal-forward pop-country with playful flourishes of soul, rock and doo-wop

For Fans of: Danielle Bradbery, Jillian Jacqueline, Meghan Trainor

Why You Should Pay Attention: It’s no secret that there’s a striking lack of female representation on country radio, a disparity that’s even more pronounced when considered alongside the wealth of talented new women artists making and releasing music. Anderson falls squarely into that talented category, as shown on her excellent new EP I’m Good, which spans early Miranda Lambert-esque Southern pop-rock (“Naked Truth”), radio-ready empowerment anthems (“I’m Good”) and vintage sounds styled for a contemporary audience (“Dance Away My Broken Heart”). An artist who first got started as a songwriter, the Dallas, Texas, native has plenty more stories to tell, and a hell of a voice to tell them with.

She Says: “‘Make Him Wait’ was inspired by how my parents raised me and everything they taught my sisters and me about our value and our worth. I was thinking one day, ‘What is one thing girls everywhere w­­­ould know if they had parents like mine?’ It would be knowing their worth, and that someone’s worth isn’t wrapped around a relationship. ‘Make Him Wait’ definitely stands out from the rest of the EP because it’s a ballad, but it is congruent with the theme of confidence. I’d like to think all of my songs exude confidence.”

Hear for Yourself: “Make Him Wait” is Anderson’s breakout song, and with good reason. A vulnerable ballad in the vein of early Martina McBride, the track introduces Anderson as both compelling lyricist and vocalist. B.M.

Filmore, country singer


Sounds Like: Lovelorn country-pop dripping with beer, Jon Bellion-like instrumentation and the occasional polished rap verse

For Fans of: Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Eric Church

Why You Should Pay Attention: It’s impossible to listen to Tyler Filmore and not think of Sam Hunt, with the Nashville-based singer seamlessly fusing traditional country and polished pop. After his parents divorced when he was young, he leaned into his folks’ individual sonic tastes, listening to his Columbian mother play salsa music while she was cooking in the kitchen and digging into his dad’s Eighties favorites like John Mellencamp and Def Leppard. While music had always been a strong interest for him, the now-28-year-old didn’t start seriously pursuing it as a career until he graduated from college and relocated to Nashville. His uptempo country-pop hit “Slower” took off and has since notched nearly 20 million streams on Spotify, expanding his fan base in just the last few months. It paved the way for his EP Last Year, which distilled a year’s worth of experiences — including the end of a long-term relationship and a period of constant touring and being in-between homes — into three songs.

He Says: “When I was in fifth grade they offered a free recess if we joined the choir. So I did it to get free recess. That’s how it all started. From that point on, I was in choirs and bands, and I played sports all throughout high school. I was super involved in sports, and I ended up going to the University of Missouri for music and business. Then it expanded from there. I really honed in my songwriting craft when I moved to Nashville. I’ve been here for six years now. Over that progression, I’ve listened to a lot of people tell me what country is. When I stopped listening to people, it’s really when it started working.”

Hear for Yourself: An anthemic ode to the country music craft painted with his rich and raspy vocals, “Country Song” shows Filmore proving he’s serious about the genre to anyone who’s ever doubted him. I.K.


Aly Fae + Cal Quinn/Courtesy of Xavier Industries


Sounds Like: The hammer of the gods pays a visit to Music Row

For Fans of: T.Rex, Electric Light Orchestra, Jeff Buckley

Why You Should Pay Attention: Glimmering with the sequined flair of Seventies glam, Creamer’s swaggering rock & roll has been a longtime coming, ever since Philip Creamer taught himself the Beatles’ “Blackbird” at age 13. But he first caught the musical bug from a youth spent in church — his father is a preacher in Dallas, Texas — which helped form his intricate harmonic phrasing and sense for melodrama. Dovetail, a roots-rock band he formed 10 years ago, featured future members of the Texas Gentlemen, including younger brother Daniel on keys, but upon moving to Nashville in 2015 he started fresh. Connected with Pat Sansone through his friends in the Cordovas, Creamer was encouraged to hone a howl that registers somewhere between Freddie Mercury and Jeff Buckley. Having toured with Wilco in 2017, the band releases their self-titled debut on September 21st, produced by Sansone and featuring guitar heroics from Audley Freed and big beats from drummer Dave King.

He Says: “My mom played piano in our church, so at home there was a lot of her practicing hymns and traditional Anglo gospel music, these really rich chord progressions and a very harmonic singing style which has really defined my ear. I came from this really old-fashioned music that I thought I hated at the time but started appreciating as I got older. On my mom’s side of the family, my grandmother and her three sisters had a gospel quartet and cut a record back in the Sixties in Houston. It was really amazing,” says Creamer. “I was strictly supposed to listen to Christian church music, but I would get a cassette recorder in my bedroom [for] these radio broadcasts of classic rock and modern Nineties rock, and record over gospel cassettes. I’d go back and listen in my room, really quietly, at night, trying to ‘get the Led out.'”

Hear for Yourself: “Drugs No More” is a jangling, wall-of-sound ode to the intoxication of love. J.G.

Tenille Arts

Courtesy of Campbell Entertainment Group

Tenille Arts

Sounds Like: An edgy, Fearless-era Taylor Swift with crystalline vocals; ideal for hopeless romantics who are fire signs

For Fans of: Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood

Why You Should Pay Attention: Despite releasing music independently since 2016, Saskatchewan native Tenille Arts didn’t get her big break until she performed on The Bachelor in 2017. During the viewing party for the show, the head of Reviver Records came to see Arts play. Soon enough, the 24-year-old country newcomer landed a record deal. Although her debut album Rebel Child was released by 19th and Grand Records in 2017, a deluxe edition of the LP came out earlier this year via Reviver. Arts’ talent led her to an opening slot for Reba McEntire at select shows, and she’s in the midst of preparing for her first big tour with fellow Canadian country singer Dean Brody.

She Says: Performing on The Bachelor was a game-changer for Arts. “My manager said, ‘Send me your best love song. I think there’s going to be a big opportunity for you.’ [So] I sent him this song I had written called ‘Moment of Weakness’ and we recorded it really quickly and sent it into the show. They loved it and wanted me to be on an episode. I did that almost a year ago — in Ari’s season. Now we just found out I’m going to be on the show for Colton’s season of The Bachelor.”

Hear for Yourself: “I Hate This” addresses the helplessness that comes with any broken relationship, with Arts’ voice drifting and lilting over a Dobro riff. I.K.

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Courtesy of Missing Piece Group

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

Sounds Like: A reverent take on foundational country-blues boosted by gospel energy and scrappy Heartland edge

For Fans of: North Mississippi Allstars, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimbo Mathus

Why You Should Pay Attention: As a teenager, Josh Peyton became a hardcore fan of early country-blues, and his interest has never waned. Fronting Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the rural Indiana native blends the primitive finger-picking of early Delta pioneers like Charley Patton with the hypnotic slide riffs of the Hill Country style to craft his own raucous, uplifting sound. Despite the name, the Big Damn Band is actually a stripped-down trio, with Peyton joined by his wife Breezy on washboard and drummer Max Senteney on a minimalist kit. The power comes from Peyton’s deep, preacher-like vocals and aggressive fretwork on a range of vintage guitars. With rowdy, collective energy, the group has found favor beyond the blues world, earning slots at Bonnaroo and on the Warped Tour.

What They Say: “Ever since I was a kid, when I first heard rural blues, and what guys like Charley Patton and Mississippi John Hurt were doing, I’ve been obsessed with it,” says Peyton. “My whole mission throughout my career has been to take this stuff and try to create new things, while still making it sound timeless. I’m always trying to push the boundaries. This music is communal, so at the end of the day, the idea is to put on a show and entertain people.”

Hear for Yourself: “Poor Until Payday,” the title track of the band’s upcoming LP (out October 5th), is a full-throated, foot-stomping anthem about the rewards that come from following your bliss before your bank account. J.F.

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