Country music has certainly faced growing pains and controversy over its long history. Many fans are divided on the introduction of pop music into country music, and whether this style can even be considered country music. In my opinion, country music should echo tradition and avoid becoming too dependent on the success of pop music.
Here are five contemporary artists you should be listening to right now:
Arguably the best singer-songwriter in country music today, Bryan embodies the musical amalgam of the United States. It’s obvious that Bryan puts his heart and soul into every song he produces, and I’ve never pressed skip while listening to any of his albums or EPs. His debut studio album, “American Heartbreak”, will be released on May 20.
Album recommendations: “DeAnn” and “Quiet Heavy Dreams”
An absolute juggernaut singer-songwriter, HARDY stands out from other artists in particular for his clever use of puns and storytelling. He is also the author of most of the songs of country singer Morgan Wallen. HARDY’s innovative HIXTAPE, a redneck take on the mixtapes, combines classic rock elements with traditional country themes. While HARDY’s presence in the genre grows, his lyrical ingenuity has yet to falter.
Album recommendations: “HIXTAPE: Vol. 1” and “ONE ROCK”
Avery Anna is an absurdly underrated artist. His deeply heartbreaking songs center on the complexity of toxic relationships. If you want a lump in your throat, his music will do just that. While she’s only released four singles so far, Anna’s talent is already evident. I can’t wait to see what she has to come next.
Song Recommendations: “Just Cause I Love You” and “Narcissist”
Stapleton’s music transcends genres. Even the most discerning listeners will find something in him to enjoy. Stapleton’s ability to incorporate so many different concepts into a single album, while keeping it grounded, is his greatest strength. His songs sing odes to love, death and culture. With these themes, Stapleton abandons the old clichéd lyrics and replaces them with expressive poetry.
Album Recommendations: “Start Over” and “In One Piece: Volumes 1 and 2”
Childers is a must on this list. His songs are powerful tributes to his upbringing in Kentucky and encapsulate a solid range of emotions in his albums. Childers differs from many other popular country musicians in that he did not change his style from his bluegrass-folk sound. Some country artists fell victim to the influence of popular culture, becoming “pop country”, but Childers stayed true to his roots.
Album recommendations: “Purgatory” and “Live on Red Barn Road”