Country Artists On The Rise 2018

Country Artists On The Rise 2018

     Country Music continues to evolve and grow as a genre, especially over the past decade. Country stars continue to push the envelope by crossing into other genres, creating new and unique music. Taylor Swift easily swings from Pop to Country and back again, The Zac Brown Band did a song with the late great rock star Chris Cornell, and raise your hand if you remember the time that Tim McGraw and Nelly teamed up. Every year it seems like the talent continues to break boundaries and the new talent that enters scene just keeps getting better and better. 

     Looking at what 2018 has in store, we can expect the same trends to continue. Country music mixed with a variety of different genres. We compiled a list of new artists that we’re predicting will become popular in the country scene for 2018. If you want to be ahead of the game, check them out on Spotify and add these names to your playlist. 

Jordan Davis

     Jordan Davis was born with country music in his blood. His uncle wrote Tracy Lawrence’s hit singles “Today’s Lonely Fool” and “Better Man, Better Off”. His younger brother Jacob is also a country recording artist. In fact, Rolling Stone named Jacob one of the country artists to watch for September 2017. 

     Jordan explains a little bit about his songwriting style, in an interview to ‘Rolling Stone’
"Having such a deep-rooted songwriting background, the actual lyric and the story is up front in every song of mine," says Davis, "I always go back to John Prine, just because he has those songs that can tear your heart out, and these borderline funny songs that are very witty and well-written. Some days I want to hear songs like 'Sam Stone,' but other days I want to turn on music I don't have to think much about and just enjoy. I wanted to do that, too." 

     It seems to have paid off his debut single “Singles You Up” was received well by the critics and is said to be as infectious of a tune as Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl”.  (For the younger kids that is a song from the 80’s that you just can’t help but love when you hear it). It peaked at 24 and the single has sold 67,000 copies. Jordan's debut album "Home State" is set to release 3.23.18 We look forward to new music and watching Jordan’s career unfold.


Devin Dawson

     You would think that living within the shadow of Folsum Prison, the deep yearning heartbreaking soul of Johnny Cash, would have spurned a country loving boy. However, Devin grew up loving R&B, Classic Rock and even toured with a Metal Band. He then gained his fame when he and a friend went on YouTube and filmed a mashup of Taylor Swift songs. It all ended up leading to a recording contract.

     He explained a little bit about how writing songs for country music differs from other music,
"I learned how to write songs just by listening to country music and how to set up words. The weight of the words we have in this genre is unlike anything. We have the ability to let people in on certain things. Just the culture of songwriting in country music is what I grew up analyzing without even realizing it. [My music] might have more of a soul sonic identity with a little bit of rock, but with more of the honesty and vulnerability of a country lyric. I couldn't do what I do with any other genre because I'm such a stickler for words."

     His debut single is “All on Me”. It hit number #27 on the US Country charts and had 114,000 sales. His album “Dark Horse,” was released last Friday, January 19. Positive reviews have already been made in regards to the new album, which is great news for Dawson. One critic said “Dark Horse” was produced by Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Little Big Town, Brothers Osborne) and quickly cements Dawson as an artist to watch as he sounds unlike anything within today’s country landscape. While the singer’s exterior and promotional image — black and white photos highlighting his sleeve tattoos and all-black wardrobe — may paint him as country’s bad boy, there is so much more underneath the surface.”

     Devin Dawson makes this statement especially true from just the album art itself. It’s safe to say that it is unlike any other country album art, just another movement that is taking country music to new places.

 Jimmie Allen

     When you look up Famous Country Artists from Delaware only one comes up. Chuck Wicks. So, it is not an understatement to say that Delaware is not a hotbed of budding country artists. However, we can now add one more name to that list. Jimmie Allen. He may not be a household name but he has been putting in his dues. He has been featured in a Super Bowl commercial, toured the world, rocked with Toby Keith and appeared with Taylor Swift in a Diet Coke commercial. 
But with all that came a price.

     People were constantly telling him to change who he was. However, he decided to make his own path. He has said “People were just trying to help,” he says now. “But they wanted me to change my sound and told me I had to lose my boots. The turning point came when I stopped listening, and finally let my music be a natural reflection of who I am.” It seems that is especially true when he was on American Idol Season 10 but was let go very early in the competition “They told me that I was very unique, and my style, it goes against the grain. They just said to keep doing what I do, and things will work out. They never really said why I didn’t make it.”

     In the end, Jimmie Allen is the one who persevered and made it in the country world HIS way. He has a self-titled EP called “Jimmie Allen” out now. 

Ashley McBryde

     Her debut album “Girl Goin Nowhere” is not even due to be released until March 30th, 2018 but her first single “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” was named one of the 54 Best Songs of 2017 by the New York Times. It charted at number 59.  The reason for this may be all the time she has spent as the opener for huge country acts like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr, Chris Stapleton and recently Eric Church. She can be described as an Arkansas country tough girl with the swagger of Johnny Cash, the guitar skills of Bonnie Raitt and the song writing poetry of Dolly Parton.

     She describes her sound as  "... sort of a rag-tag gypsy kind of thing. It's classy-trashy, it's a very clean dirty, it's got a little trailer on it, and it probably lived in the back of a covered wagon most of its life."

Drew Baldridge

     Mix pop-rock-country-r&b rhythms and you have Drew Baldridge's debut album “Dirt on Us”. He has already released two very popular singles “Guns & Roses”, and “Rebound”. 
"The new record is going to be a little different. It's still in that realm of the funk music I love. Growing up I listened to Michael Jackson, and I love Earth, Wind & Fire – all that grooving stuff. I love to dance on stage and my band, we all choreograph our dances, so there's still going to be that fun grooving side," he says.

     "But there's also still going to be songs that are just down-home country songs in the realm of 'Guns & Roses,'" he adds. "That song is a new country meets old country type of lyrics, and that's the type of realm that a handful of these songs are going to fall into. So, some of them are going to be really pushing the boundaries of country music with funk music and groovy bass lines, but like I said there's still going to be small-town lyrics to a couple of these songs. There's going to be the whole spectrum."

     One reviewer has said that Drew Baldridge’s new album is “…..a fresh artist with positive, upbeat music is changing the sound of country music as we know it. With a variety of influences ranging from country greats such as Brooks and Dunn and Eric Church to pop legends, Michael Jackson and Prince, some would go as far to say that Baldridge has created a brand new genre that could be described as “Country Funk.” 

Adam Doleac

     You may not recognize the name Adam Doleac, but you will recognize some of the songs he has written. He has written songs for country greats like Darius Rucker and Kane Brown. His voice is warm and pleasantly country. He explained where his songwriting roots grew from and how he landed in Music City, “All my influences came outside of country. I've got a lot of grit in my voice. When I moved up to Nashville and started working with some of these writers I loved, I combined the storytelling side of country music with the sounds I grew up hearing. That's what landed me here." 

     Rolling Stone says that his songs are  “Epic, big-hearted country anthems better suited to the stadium than the saloon”

     His album “Whiskey's Fine” is out now and the self-titled single “Whiskey’s Fine” is the most played song on XM Radio. 

Morgan Evans

     This Aussie born star was making rock music before he crossed over to country. In Australia, he opened and toured with Taylor Swift, being named Oz Music Artist of the Year in 2013. He kept going from there. He released a self-titled debut album in 2014 “Morgan Evans” which hit # 1 on the Australia charts. The CMC Music Awards named him Oz Artist of the Year again, Male Artists of the Year and Best Australian Video of the Year. In addition, his track “Like a Tornado,” was highly considered for a coveted award in 2014.  He even co-hosted the CMC event from 2015 – 2017 (which is how he met Kelsea). So where, do you go from there? Well, you pack up and head the 10,000 some odd miles from Australia to Nashville, TN. Before he even moved he add already picked up a 2016 CMA Global Artists of the Year and won five fan-voted Country Music Channel Awards, which included Male Artist of the Year. 

     Of course, to top it all off, he then married the incomparable and beautiful Kelsea Ballerini in Cabo San Lucas in late 2017. What a year he has had. 

     On December 8th, he released “I Do” in his own words he describes what the songs sums up, "The track sums up everything found in that simple vow: falling in love, what he loves about his new wife Kelsea Ballerini, and his hope for their lifelong union.” Morgan not only captured the heart of Kelsea but many other female fans with this love song. 

      “I Do”  almost immediately shot up the charts. Hitting # 16 No. 16 on the ARIA Digital Tracks, No. 8 on the Australian Artist Singles, No. 4 on the Hit Seekers Singles charts. 

     None of us will be surprised when we hear more of what Morgan Evans has to offer. Morgan Evans if you’re asking us if we want more love songs from you? “We Do”

 Brandon Ray

     He started out as a rocker but soon country music took over his musical soul. His first single “Ends of the Earth” could not have more country with the likes of Keith Urban playing and singing on the track. But be careful that you do not get this Brandon Ray mixed up with the hip-hop artist Brandon Ray. 

     Brandon Ray is often compared to John Mellencamp and to that he says “I'm not trying to be John Mellencamp, but there's an honesty in that kind of music — the storytelling, the phrasing, the whole attitude — that fits in with who I am. Country music is all about storytelling, where you can paint these pictures for your audience. Look at 'Jack & Diane.' You can see the Tastee Freeze. You can see these two kids as their story unfolds. I love that. We're doing something similar on our new six-song EP, where we're looking to bring some real meaning with us, instead of just six or seven songs about tailgates and beer." 

     We will continue to wait for a new album or EP to drop, very patiently.  

Kalie Shorr

     To say that Kalie Shorr has been a star from since she could read would be an understatement. She wrote her first song at 6, picked up the guitar at 13, starting covering songs on YouTube around the same time, went to Nashville at 16 and moved there permanently at 19. And if you think she all country she did front a country Nirvana cover band in Highschool.  

     It seems that she seems to have luck with all thing are in simpatico with the number 3. 
In 2012, (another 3 companion) celeb Perez Hilton invited her to sing at his birthday party with The Backstreet Boys. She was the first female artist to be highlighted by Taste of Country for their Let The Girls Play campaign and her Youtube covers channel continues to be successful. In February of 2015, she released a full demo of her EP’s, called “The Nashville Sessions.” In 2017 she released a much anticipated 5 song EP called “Slingshot.” It combines a nice blend of pop and country. She says it is a “huge part of my sound and how I identify myself.” 

     Rolling Stone describes her sound as “Polished pop country with a feminist streak, with youthful energy and wit to spare”

Dylan Schneider

     Before Dylan Schneider even signed with Interscope Records his EP 17 was #3 on the iTunes Country Album Chart and $37 on Billboard's Top Country Albums,  his five song album hit number #1 on the iTunes Country Album Charts, that summer his solo headlining tour was selling out, then finally his single “How Does it Sound” accumulated 3 million streams on Spotify. Then Billboard called him “country music’s next rising star”. All before being signed to Interscope in November.

     He describes his own sound as “I would say it’s definitely a newer sound of Country Music. It’s not exactly too Pop or to Country. It’s definitely got a rock element, and I think that people can have a good time listening to it. I think it’s just fun sounding music. That’s what it is to me.”
But we almost lost Dylan before we got to fully appreciate his talent. He was in Vegas on October 1st at the Jason Aldean concert. He explains his experience in detail and the fear he felt but says it won’t stop him from performing. “if you stop going to shows and living, you let the terrorists win. You let them take over your good time. I don’t think that any of us are going to be afraid to step back up and get on the stage. We can’t let them win.”

 Lewis Brice

     Yes, this is LEWIS Brice, not Lee Brice but they are brothers. But if you think that he looks familiar that is because he was the guy in Lee Brice's  2014 ACM Song of the Year music video for “I Drive Your Truck.” Talk about a musically gifted family, and his time on CMT’s ‘Can You Duet’ did not hurt either. If you had to put his sound into words you might say he is a country boy who grew up with a love of rock n roll and beer, knows the good book but doesn’t mind getting out there and breaking the rules. 

     And you can be sure that every single time you see a show you are going to get the best from him. He told Rolling Stone “….what we do onstage is what keeps us alive. There are people out there who save a whole week's worth of money to go see one show. So every time I step on that stage, I give it 200 percent, because that might be the first and last time that somebody sees me. If I get in front of them, I want to leave an impression. I want them to come see me again then next time."


Walker McGuire

     The ONLY duo on the list Walker McGuire. Walker McGuire walks a fine line between pop, rock and 21st-century country. They explain their sound  “We say that if you put Tom Petty on one road and Keith Whitley on another, and they intersected with Matchbox Twenty, that's where we'd be."

     The pair was formed in 2012. Both love performing. Walker was singing National Anthems at age 3 and McGuire got his first guitar at 5 and started sitting in with bands at 6. Once they formed Walker Mcguire they found much love from DJ’s Big D & Bubba syndicated radio show who gave them their national exposure by featuring them regularly. Soon the two found themselves playing almost 300 gigs a year.. Finally, in 2016 they released their debut single “Till Tomorrow” which became a viral hit and racked up 20 million plays via streaming services. 

     Their brand new self-titled Debut EP “Walker McGuire” was released January 12th. The EP shot to #2 on the iTunes Country Charts. Sounds Like Nashville had this to say of their new EP “the collection of five songs gives listeners a strong taste of what to expect from the duo, who is sure only to grow on top of their burgeoning success.”

     Walker McGuire can be seen performing on the “Lost Tour” this year, highly recommend checking it out if you get a chance.