This month's list of new country artists to watch is diverse, to say the least.
Each act brings a unique quality to the musical landscape — from Lucie Silvas' undeniably soulful voice to Brandon Stansell's important LGBTQ awareness (plus his thoughtful lyrics). On this Who's RISING Now? list you'll also find three powerhouse women who tell authentic stories through powerful songs.
Clare Dunn has been building career momentum with beloved tracks like "Tuxedo" and "Old Hat," and with the release of her new single, "More," 2018 will be her breakthrough year. Don't overlook Rachel Wammack — she's an old soul with talent equaling music greats who came before her. Here are five country acts not to miss in August 2018.
Clare Dunn is a superstar trapped in a newcomer's image. She's been around for years, but her country-pop "Tuxedo" proves it's time to give her what she's earned. With guitar skills as sharp as Lindsay Ell and Brad Paisley, Dunn is a multi-faceted artist with serious songwriting skills. "Old Hat" is the most compelling example — Dunn can actually bring tears to your eyes as she sings of holding onto a loved one through a cherished possession. Her latest single "More" leans more to the current sound of country.
Lucie Silvas has a voice that will make you beg for more. It's packed with so much soul and passion that you can’t help but be invigorated. Hear this in every song she sings, whether on her fiery new single "Kite" or a haunting cover of the Willie Nelson classic “You Were Always on My Mind.” With an extensive resume that includes cuts on NBC’s Smash, Silvas has earned a respectable reputation in Nashville for her exquisite talent, which will be on full display when her new album E.G.O. drops on Aug. 24. Look for her to make more than a ripple in 2018.
Flash in the pan acts don't get called to open for Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town on one of the hottest tickets in country music. The Steel Woods are legit artists with a lot to offer, and from the moment you hit play on “Straw in the Wind,” the same title as their 2017 debut album, their gift for capturing the soul of Southern rock, blues and alt-country is evident. The voice of lead singer Wes Bayliss is striking, and their mastery of storytelling is exemplified through vivid lyrics on tracks like “Axe” and “Let the Rain Come Down.” Fans of Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson will dig this electrifying group.
Rachel Wammack is about to become a household name. She's a strong woman who knows how to tap into her emotions and create something authentic. This is evident throughout her debut self-titled EP, with messages of empowerment standing out on songs “My Boyfriend Doesn’t Speak For Me Anymore” and “Closure,” which paint an image of a woman who is unshakeable. Wammack's lead country single, “Damage,” has caught the attention of the many as Wammack’s haunting voice captivatingly tells a story of the beauty and heartbreak of love. Expect her to be one of 2018’s breakout stars.
Country music will benefit from an artist like Brandon Stansell, who brings a necessary LGBTQ voice to the genre. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native replanted his Southern roots in Los Angeles, but he hasn't left country for Hollywood. His single “For You” proves his potential with a summery melody and uplifting lyrics. But it’s the courageous “Hometown” that really showcases his talent, as he shares his story of growing up in a rural town with memories often painful to face — but he still has conflicted pride for the place he calls home. Between inspiring covers of Ashley McBryde’s “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy" — the latter of which scored him a nod from the Huffington Post — and a standout performance at Ty Herndon’s 2018 Concert for Love & Acceptance, Stansell is a country act to watch this year.
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