In 2017, previously featured rising artists like Luke Combs, Carly Pearce, Brett Young and Midland exploded onto the country scene. Now it’s time for a whole new crop of artists to seize their spot in the country music and Americana landscapes. There are several noteworthy rising artists on the scene, but we can’t fit them all here. With that in mind, here are 9 of our favorite new country artists that we’re going to be watching closely in 2018.
Before moving to Nashville, West Texas native Ross Cooper was a professional bareback bronc rider until a knee injury sidelined him good. With a handful of records already under his belt, Cooper seems primed to break out with his upcoming album, I Rode The Wild Horses. Due out March 9, the album is a refreshing (and real) take on the cowboy life. With Eric Masse (Miranda Lambert, Andrew Combs, Rayland Baxter) at the producing helm, they create a lush soundscape that ranges from the sepia-toned deserts of Far West Texas to rich textures of late night drives illuminated by only the glow of the full moon.
Sounds Like: The gritty rodeo songs of Ryan Bingham with the garage rock guitar licks of Ryan Adams.
Required Listening: “I Rode the Wild Horses,” a road-weary rodeo anthem about a cowboy’s heyday in the saddle.
Though only in his early 30s, Nashville by way of Texas singer-songwriter Ben Danaher possesses a wealth of insight, experience, and the diction of a songwriter twice his age. There’s a commitment to the craft of storytelling rooted in each country ballad and every barroom confessional. Danaher’s forthcoming full-length album is currently slated for September 2018 release date and features collaborations with Maren Morris, Erik Dylan, Drew Kennedy and Josh Rider.
Sounds Like: The experienced perspective of a young Guy Clark, the rich, earthy textures of Buddy Miller and clever storytelling similar to Andrew Combs.
Required Listening: ”My Father’s Blood,” a graceful and intimate tribute to Danaher’s late father.
Los Angeles is home to several of today’s best emerging country and Americana artists. Count rising artist Sam Morrow among them. Morrow’s soulful vocals and seasoned, world-worn perspectives have been turning heads in the L.A. scene and beyond. But his upcoming project, Concrete and Mud, will likely push him to a wider national audience and the forefront of the conversation. The project marks a significant transformation in his style, sound and confidence, and is one of our most anticipated releases for early 2018. — Matt Alpert
What he sounds like: The swampy edge of Muscle Shoals’ greatest hits mixed with modern Americana cool.
Required Listening: “Green,” a melancholy slow-burner that will introduce you to Morrow’s rich vocal talent.
Singer and banjo player Ashley Campbell made her presence known through I’ll Be Me, a 2014 documentary about her late father Glen Campbell. Ashley’s solo career should reach new heights soon based on “A New Year,” the lead single from debut album The Lonely One, out March 9. — Bobby Moore
Sounds Like: Campbell nearly mastered her father’s balance of pop-oriented singing and roots-based picking while playing in his backing band.
Required Listening:“Remembering,” a cut from the I’ll Be Me soundtrack shares her inner-personal feelings about her father’s well-documented battle with Alzheimer’s..
Phoenix, Ariz. native Tommy Ash has been putting the western in country western since she started playing in Arizona honky-tonks at just 13 years old. Her 2013 debut album Sinner’s Blood mixes the Telecaster-driven Bakersfield Sound of Buck and Merle with a cowpunk yodel that’s made her a staple at Nashville’s American Legion Post 82. Ash is nominated in the Honky Tonk Female category for the 2018 Ameripolitan Awards. She’s currently working on her sophomore album, which is set to be released in 2018. — Bobbie Jean Sawyer
Sounds Like: Dwight Yoakam dueting with Wanda Jackson in a Bakersfield bar.
Required Listening: “Lost it All,” a barroom heartbreaker made for two-stepping.
Originally hailing from Kentucky, Jericho Woods bring their own down-home spin to modern country music. With infectious and relatable lyrics, along with bluegrass influences from their home state, their live performances showcase their expertly blended harmonies and dynamic personalities. — Lorie Liebig
Sound like: A grittier, modern take on 80s and 90s country groups like Diamond Rio, Shenandoah and Sawyer Brown, with the cool, polished vibe of Old Dominion.
Required listening: “Better Now,” an infectious and uplifting tune about the rejuvenating power of love.
At just 20 years old, Savannah Conley has a voice so filled with warmth and power that you’d think she’s spent years perfecting it. And she has. Her professional music career started at the age of 7, and over the years she’s built her own point of view and style of storytelling. With influences that range from Dolly Parton to the Rolling Stones, it’s no surprise that her music infuses haunting, soaring story songs with vocals that feel like a welcome sucker punch to the gut. — Lorie Liebig
Sounds like: A powerful mixture of Emmylou Harris, Amanda Shires and Brandi Carlile.
Required listening: “Midnight Train,” an instant classic that flawlessly builds from a haunting ballad to a anthemic singalong.
Tyler Childers debut album, Purgatory, was one of the most buzzed about new albums of 2017, and while it certainly helped that Grammy-winning artist Sturgill Simpson co-produced it, the magic was all Childers. The Kentuckian possesses a rare lyrical gift and authenticity of heart we seldom hear. His music is rooted in the culture and experience of Appalachia, and sounds almost like modern versions of songs the Stanley Brothers would’ve written and recorded more than half a century ago. Childers’ songs feels deeply personal, whether they’re character sketches or based on anecdotal experiences, and are often wildly clever. Armed with tremendous artistic potential and newfound notoriety, the stage is set for Childers in 2018. — Matt Alpert
Sounds like: Deeply thoughtful and often intense modern Appalachian music.
Required listening: “Whitehouse Road,” A country bop down a Kentucky backroad that will instantly hook you into his music.
Charley Crockett is someone I point to when folks say that new artists aren’t pushing traditional music forward. The Texas artist balances his reverence for traditional styles and modern swagger in a way that sounds effortlessly cool –not an easy feat in roots music. Crockett’s music blends honky-tonk, swing, blues, soul and rock-and-roll into a vibrant sound that is uniquely his own. It’s also a sound that quickly engages live music goers, so as he continues to tour, we expect his fanbase to continue to flourish. — Matt Alpert
Sounds Like: A student of Texas’ traditional musical styles with a whole lot of modern swagger.
Required Listening: “I Am Not Afraid.” The Toots and the Maytalls reggae groove, Crockett’s soulful vocals and weepy country pedal steel show Crockett’s vibrant musical palette.