Confession: We love a good, solid country song and a good, solid country artist to go with it. Sure, we love classic country artists like Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Thomas Rhett, but every once in a while, we get a hankerin’ for something new. With tons of country artists rising through the ranks every year, we have plenty of great new acts to add to our catalog of must-listen musicians, but not all of them are worthy to be considered some of the best of the new crop. So, who has made the cut for the next generation of country music stars you should really be listening to?
Well, we love artists that sound like some of our favorites but are bringing their own musical twists to the country music genre. We love a powerful ballad as much as we love a hootenanny song. We want to be able to turn up these songs during a long drive or at our favorite dive bars. And luckily, all of the artists and their songs we handpicked below deliver on these wishes and so, so much more.
Keep reading below to see which rising country artists have earned our seal of approval and made the cut.
1. The Wild Reeds
Female trio The Wild Reeds will make you swoon for their mellow folk music, like their soft yet strong single, “Capable.”
2. Trixie Mattel
Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will recognize All Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel, but she’s just getting her bearing in the world of country, honey. Perhaps one of the only openly queer and riotously fun performers on the scene, Mattel brings a bluegrass vibe to her poppy country songs.
3. Rachel Wammack
Rachel Wammack is a powerful vocalist who has the stuff to rise to the top of the country charts — you’ll agree once you hear her belt it out on the track “Damage.”
4. Tenille Townes
On top of a truly grade-A name, Tenille Townes brings to the table lots of rootsy, rockin’ country topped with melodic vocals that will remind you of Alison Krauss or Laura Marling.
5. Hayley Sabella
Hayley Sabella’s mellow country-folk songs like “If I Reach” are delicate, tender creations that are perfect for when you want to chill out but still feel the country twang deep in your soul.
6. Kyle Daniel
Kyle Daniel’s music, and especially his song “Hangover Town” is tailor-made for fans who love Blake Shelton or the husky jolt of Chris Stapleton’s singing style.
Glorietta’s “Heatstroke” is reminiscent of a down-home Lynyrd Skynyrd single like “Sweet Home Alabama” with the funk turned up to 11 and the refrain, “I got the heatstroke,” making you want to headbang the night away (read: It’s a damn good song from a damn good band).
8. Sunny War
Sunny War melds country, folk, pop, neo-soul and alternative genres into something wholly enticing. Her vibe is best seen on the track “If It Wasn’t Broken,” a dreamy, floaty song buoyed by her mellow vocals and a twanging guitar.
9. Andrew Leahey & the Homestead
Andrew Leahey & the Homestead are the quintessential country newcomers, with a full-on band and powerful vocals from frontman Leahey.
10. Jimmie Allen
The heir to Thomas Rhett’s throne, which is built on crowd-pleasing anthems and a winning personality, has arrived in the form of newbie Jimmie Allen. One rotation of “Best Shot” will have you hooked on his work immediately.
11. Bishop Gunn
Bishop Gunn churns out the kind of bluesy country you’d expect deep from the heart of Memphis and thus makes them welcome up-and-comers to the country scene.
12. Liz Cooper & the Stampede
Liz Cooper & the Stampede’s cheeky country-ish tune “Mountain Man” hints at just how playful this group can get — and why they’re ones to watch in the country and folk scene.
13. Rising Appalachia
Rising Appalachia has been around for a few years but are just now breaking big with politically charged protest songs that recall Bob Dylan, except they’re refreshingly feminist and honest in their slant. Take a listen to “Resilient” and see for yourself.
14. Tyler Dial
There’s a lot to love about Tyler Dial, but it’s the emotional honesty of his lyrics that recall Keith Urban that will make you want to press play on his song “Truth in the Way.”
15. Carolina Story
Duo Carolina Story has the wistful drawl of Emmylou Harris with the powerful push and pull of The Civil Wars, which means you need to get on their wavelength ASAP.
16. Hannah Ellis
If you’re a fan of Carrie Underwood or Maren Morris, then you need to keep tabs on the bright country stylings of Hannah Ellis.
17. Phil Cook
Phil Cook hails from chilly Wisconsin climes but his voice is Southern-fried all the way. Take one listen to his song “Miles Away” and you’ll know that he’s a major new country artist you need to be tuned into.
And, if you’d like to hear all these great artists in one place, fear not! We’ve compiled this Spotify playlist just for you.