-"Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" George Jones
So even though I have made it abundantly clear that I'm not a fan this new country/rap/pop craze going around, there are some new artists on the horizon that give me hope for the future of country music (and consequently, help me get out of bed each morning). I don't necessarily believe that every one of these artists is going to have monstrous success on the radio, but I love each and every one of them for the simple reason that they don't conform; none of their styles are similar and none of their lyrics are the same… and that's what makes them great.
(These are in no particular order)
1. Brett Eldredge
I didn't know what to expect from his debut album, "Bring You Back" because I thought he could be in danger of having a CD full of drinking songs without any substance but I couldn't have been more presently surprised! Brett managed to release an extremely impressive CD that is contemporary, fun, heartfelt, and heart wrenching all at the same time. "Bring You Back" encompasses a surprising array of human emotions and he even brings back the classic technique of storytelling that has always been a trademark of country music but that has been strangely absent from country radio these days (see "Raymond" and "Signs").
On top of great lyrics and powerful arrangements, I venture to say that Brett has one of the strongest and most unique voices in country music today. This combination is unstoppable and if you listen to his album, I hope it is clear why he earned a spot on this list.
2. Charlie Worsham
Charlie Worsham (1) has a hilarious last name and (2) fearlessly entered the country music scene with a timeless sound that made me want to cry from happiness the first time I heard it. I first heard the beautiful opening lyrics to his debut single, "Could It Be", on Sirius XM and immediately stopped what I was doing to pay closer attention. At first I thought that my radio must have switched to a classic country station because the chorus of "Could It Be" reminded me so much of the beautiful harmonies of Alabama that I couldn't let myself believe that it was playing on a new country station. But, alas, dreams do come true :)
His debut album, "Rubberband", was released in August and each song stays true to the sound introduced in "Could It Be". He does not have an extraordinarily powerful voice, but the arrangement of his songs compliments his softer voice and give his songs an intimacy that may not be felt if they were sung by other artists. Like Brett Eldredge, he also shows off his storytelling skills in songs like "How I Learned to Pray" and "Love Don't Die Easy". His song "Tools of the Trade" also features Vince Gill and Marty Stuart, which is a pretty impressive duo to have for an artist's first album.
3. Kacey Musgraves
I've already dedicated a blog post to the unbelievable wonder that is Kacey Musgraves but she deserves to be mentioned again because she has already been credited by music critics much more prestigious than myself as someone with the power and talent to open the door for other young artists with a more traditional country sound. If my last blog post didn't inspire you to listen to "Same Trailer, Different Park", I am now BEGGING you to do it! Even the Country Music Association agrees that she is 2013's best new artist :)
|My bro and I with Kacey|
4. Ashley Monroe
I vividly remember the first time I listened to "Like A Rose" because it completely shocked me- in a great way. At that point, all I knew about Ashley was that she was a Pistol Annie which, in my mind, meant that I should expect a CD full of songs about angry ex-girlfriends plotting the murders of their cheating exes. What I found, however, was a very traditional sounding CD full of sweet, genuine, and honest songs. What I hear in these songs is a young woman who has had to go through life's races at an earlier age than most, yet has come out of those trials singing a song of hope and love. One of my favorite songs on the album is called "Used" and I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who cannot relate to these lyrics: "This fragile heart has been passed around/been ignored and been let down… but I can give like I couldn't give before/ in the end I can love a whole lot more/used". With the state of country radio as it is, I can't promise that Ashley will get a lot of air time with these songs but if you are looking country music with more vulnerability and beauty than most, Ashley is your girl.
5. Lee Brice
Lee Brice really is a gift to country music for two reasons: his songwriting and his unbelievably strong voice. Along with Brett Eldredge, Lee has the unique ability to make his voice raspy, powerful, and heartbreaking when needed but then turn around and make his voice as sweet and gentle as an angel (cheesy but true) during his songs' most intimate moments. Lee didn't write every single song on his sophomore album, "Hard 2 Love", but here is a brief list of songs he's co-written that show why his songwriting abilities should never be questioned:
1. More Than A Memory- Garth Brooks……………..
2. Crazy Girl- Eli Young Band..……………………...
3. Still- Tim McGraw…………………………………
4. Not Every Man Lives- Jason Aldean………………
5. Only God Could Love You More- Jerrod Neimann
It was really hard for me to decide which two songs to link here but I chose "That Way Again" because the story in this song grabbed me at the first line and did not release me until the end (why am I being so cheesy today?). It shows the side of love that is often ignored in music- the struggle to stay with the one you love after the 'honeymoon' phase is over and the sacrifices each must make in order to have a successful marriage. I chose "One More Day" because it reveals the unglamorous side of life on the road and reminds us of the cost these musicians and their families pay so that we are able to receive the beautiful gift of live music.