Texas is its own world when it comes to music, so it stands to reason we should all be aware of the most promising acts working the Lone Star State. And just as it was in the past, these artists prove Texas country touches on all kinds of sounds.
From singer-songwriters and traditionalists to rockin’ bands and fiddler outfits, Texas country continues to welcome all kinds of new acts. Here are eight rising Texas country artists to watch.
Hailing from Henrietta, Texas, Erick Willis first hit the Texas scene in 2012. Now, five years later, Willis’ sound has evolved into a true amalgam of Texas music. His new eight-song EP called Flood Gate features some truly compelling writing, and should propel Willis to the next echelon of Texas music makers.
What He Sounds Like: A slightly smoother John Moreland mixed with a hint of soul.
Required Listening: “Keep You Forever,” a downtempo, melancholy ballad reminiscent of Uncle Lucius.
Austin’s Cody Bryan Band released debut album Wreck Me back in 2013 and won over fans with a steady diet of opening dates and regional radio play. Mixing plenty of rock n’ roll with a dose of twang, the boys have a new album in the works and have spent more and more time taking their brand of Texas country outside the state.
What They Sound Like: A little alternative rock mixed with some red dirt and hooks for days.
Required Listening: “Small Town Noise,” their most recent single and a great example of their hook-heavy, foot-tapping Texas country.
It doesn’t get much more Texas than being from Texas City, Texas. But Jason James captures a sound that really predates Texas country altogether. James keeps it country for the most part, shying away from the more rock n’ roll aspects of Texas country and red dirt. But what he offers still feels entirely unique and appropriate coming from the Lone Star State.
What He Sounds Like: Traditional country reminiscent of Gene Autry and maybe just a hint of Conway Twitty.
Required Listening: “I’ve Been Drinkin’ More” is the perfect introduction to Jason James. His smooth vocals with those classic country scoops and heavy pedal steel trading off with swirling guitars pretty much sums up what he’s all about.
John Baumann paints stories that feel like home. His Texas-centric songwriting captures a level of intimate knowledge of the state but doesn’t feel alienating for somebody who’s never been to the state and just wants to hear good music.
What He Sounds Like: Wade Bowen’s music and Hayes Carll’s vocal phrasing singing stories of your Texas youth.
Required Listening: “Midland,” the tale of a girl from oil country and teeming with a reality that anybody from the area can resonate with.
The latest in the long line of Lubbockites making waves in the music world, Dalton Domino is probably the epitome of Texas country at this point. He’s a gritty mix of Americana, rock n’ roll, country and perhaps just a hint of blues. In other words, Texas to a T.
What He Sounds Like: A twangy Tom Petty with a better voice.
Required Listening: New single “July” captures all the best parts of Domino — namely, killer licks and angsty lyrics wrapped in Texas country twang.
We’ve given some love to this Fort Worth native before, and darn it if we’re not going to keep doing it. He’s been on the grind consistently since releasing his acclaimed 2015 album Men and Coyotes. We expect some new music soon, mostly just because we’re hoping for it.
What He Sounds Like: If Steve Miller became a Texas country singer-songwriter.
Required Listening: “Long Way To Fall,” an excellent acoustic tune that reminds you a little of Marshall Tucker or other 70s-era Southern rock.
If the name doesn’t give it away, Flatland Cavalry is a five-piece band hailing from Lubbock. They made some big noise when debut 2016 album Humble Folks hit No. 38 on the country albums chart and No. 17 on the Americana/Folk chart.
What They Sound Like: A slightly smoother Turnpike Troubadours.
Required Listening: “February Snow.” Just listen to it. If you don’t like it, well, we can’t help you.
Mike Ryan isn’t new to anybody from Texas. The band has been on its grind for awhile now, winning awards from the Texas Regional Radio crowd in both 2014 and 2015. With a new album on the way, Mike Ryan is poised to make a big leap in Texas country similar to heavyweights Randy Rogers and Josh Abbott.
What He Sounds Like: The next big thing out of Texas country.
Required Listening: “Dancing All Around It,” the single that really helped put Mike Ryan on the map back in 2014.