With a new era comes a batch of compelling new country artists to watch for.
A theme amongst many of these artists we're looking at in the new year is nostalgia, with the likes of Dee White and Kylie Frey capturing that essence in their voices, while the blues duo of Larkin Poe take you deep into the Mississippi Delta with their striking catalog. Meanwhile, Kylie Morgan shares honest songs that convey her as a gutsy songwriter that uses her flaws and imperfections as fuel. On the other end of the spectrum is Trea Landon, who faithfully proves that traditional country music is alive and well in 2020.
Here are five acts to watch in January 2020.
The blues that emits from the souls of Larkin Poe will pierce your own. The incredibly soulful sister duo of Rebecca and Megan Lovell pack a punch with each song they release, whether it’s the dark truth of “Look Away” or the swampy “Mississippi,” with their undeniable musicianship and lyricism scoring them a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album for Venom & Faith. Don’t expect to find any polished, pop-country production here, just electrifying blues melodies created by the sisters' own hands - as they only need each other, their voices and killer guitar riffs to knock you off your feet.
A working artist since the age of 12, Morgan’s years of dedication have certainly paid off. Newly signed to Universal Music Group Nashville, Morgan is unabashedly herself in her music - point blank, “Boys Girl.” The opening line of the song has her rejecting the thought of a diamond engagement ring that she’s bound to lose and admits that she likely won’t charm your mother. But she proves the latter statement false with her engaging personality that pours through in her songs, especially with the tongue-in-cheek “Cuss Just a Little,” a lyrical letter of transparency where she admits to judging people and dirty thoughts, but believes her body is a temple. With a sharp tongue and writing pen to match, expect big things from Morgan this year with an impending debut album in the works.
There’s something distinctly nostalgic about White, in that it feels like you’ve been transported back to the 1960s when pressing “play” on any one of his tracks, like listening to a classic hit on a vintage jukebox. You hear this on "Crazy Man,” the twangy, traditional-style ode to a man who has changed his ways and become a better person. While the rest of the world is still waking up to White’s talent, plenty of his famous friends have already declared themselves fans. They include Alison Krauss, who harmonizes with him on several tracks on his debut album Southern Gentleman; Ashley McBryde, who also contributes to Southern Gentleman in the form of the haunting duet “Road That Goes Both Ways;” and John Osborne of Brothers Osborn proclaiming his Dee White fandom by wearing his T-shirt on stage. With consistently gorgeous instrumentation and a flair for nostalgia, watch for White’s artistry to continue growing in 2020.
At the young age of 24, Frey has a voice that spans decades with its crisp sound and nostalgic nature. For instance, “One Night in Tulsa,” which portrays her as an authentic country singer with a knack for descriptive imagery such as walking barefoot through Arkansas for the person she longs for, and the Randy Rogers Band collaboration “Too Bad,” a duet reminiscent of 90s country about a love you can’t get off your mind. The Louisiana native demonstrates a maturity beyond her youthful years in her humble catalog, one that is bound to evolve along with her artistry.
For those longing for the days when traditional country dominated the radio, Landon will satiate your musical appetite. His lyrics paint a visual of country life, whether with words of advice on the endearing “Get the Girl” or humble moments like listening to Don Williams on the radio and soaking in back road views on “What Feelin’ Good Feels Like.” But it’s his debut single, “Loved by a Country Boy,” that plants his stake in the world of traditional country music, as the catchy number tries to convince any city dweller that nothing compares to the quaintness of country life. Delivering his songs with ease and charm, expect Landon to make a defining name for himself this year.