New country artists are always popping up with dreams of becoming the next “Big Star” and conquering this “Crazy Town” called Music City. Not all make it, obviously.
For as much love as country fans are willing to give their favorite stars, though, it’s not easy join the club. New artists are always “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”
Here are 11 new artists currently hoping to find a pot of solid country gold at that rainbow’s end.
Josh Abbott Band
A solid Texas outfit with a loyal following, the Josh Abbott Band have been touring the Lone Star state and beyond for more than a decade. With a smooth vocal style backed by crunchy guitars as often as traditional country instruments, they walk the line between contemporary and roots music. Their video for “She’s Like Texas” is currently playing on CMT Pure, while “Touch” arrived on your radio dial five weeks ago.
Bowen has been a regular on the Red Dirt scene since 2002 when he released his first album in Texas. Since then, he’s offered four more discs, one of which, If We Ever Make It Home, peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard country albums chart and No. 2 on the trade publication’s regional Heatseekers list. The project gained notoriety through Bowen’s unflinching account of his wife’s struggle with post-partum depression in the song “Turn on the Lights.” His current single, “Saturday Night,” is hovering near the Top 40 on the country songs chart.
A diverse trio founded in Nashville in 2010, the Farm rely on distinctive three-part harmonies and the spirited fiddling of Nick Hoffman to produce its modern-sounding, arena-minded country music. Their country core is undeniable, but the three musicians each bring elements of other genres of music to the project, as well, such as Damien Horne’s R&B influenced vocal and Krista Marie’s pop sensibility. Their first single, “Home Sweet Home,” is at No. 38 on Billboard’s country songs chart.
Gibson is a fresh-faced singer who was plucked out of a gig singing in a Mexican restaurant by John Rich. Originally from the Northwestern U.S. and later Las Vegas, he found success in Nashville last year by co-writing Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s smash hit, “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” His own music is also gaining a foothold, as his sentimental “Wanna Make You Love Me” rises to No. 33 on the country songs chart and earns a place in the CMT Pure rotation.
Casey James didn’t even know what American Idol was when he decided to audition for the hit talent show. Luckily, that didn’t stop him from placing third on the program’s ninth season. A talented guitar player with Texas roots (not to mention a great head of hair), James mixes soul and blues into his country stew, especially on his steamy “Let’s Don’t Call It a Night.” The track is climbing toward the Top 10 on the country songs chart right now, and his debut album is scheduled to be released later this month.
Kramer looks to parlay her on-camera experience playing Alex on the hit TV show One Tree Hill into a successful singing career. She’s so serious about it, in fact, she got the director to change her One Tree Hill character into an aspiring singer, as well. Her first single, “Why Ya Wanna,” is currently playing on CMT and revolves around a girl who keeps running into an ex — one who is already over their relationship despite her reluctance to let go. It makes it to No. 34 on the songs chart this week.
A Tennessee native — he grew up about an hour south of Nashville — Dustin Lynch is no stranger to the ways of Music City. Discovering Nashville’s songwriting haven the Bluebird Café is what got him started, while performers like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson inspired his style. With an authoritative voice and a stoic demeanor, he’s making a strong first impression with “Cowboys and Angels,” his debut single from Broken Bow records. Viewers recently voted it up to No. 7 on CMT Pure’s 12-Pack Countdown, while radio listeners have run it up to No. 37 on the country songs chart.
Add another Georgian to the list country newcomers. Kip Moore arrives with “Somethin’ ’Bout a Truck,” a feel-good summertime anthem praising stories that start out with a four-wheel drive and a farmer’s field. The track is Moore’s second single (after last year’s “Mary Was the Marrying Kind”) and has revved all the way up to No. 22 on the songs chart so far.
Son of hit songwriter Rhett Akins (“Honey Bee,” “Take a Back Road”), Thomas Rhett picked up the family trade and started out by writing “I Ain’t Ready to Quit” for Jason Aldean’s platinum-certified My Kinda Party album. His own music sticks close to the pickup trucks, beer and girls theme as he makes his debut with the lusty-but-silly “Something to Do With My Hands.” In only its fourth week at radio, “Something to Do” is rising through No. 46.
Born in Virginia and educated in Nashville — he graduated from Belmont University, just like Brad Paisley and Trisha Yearwood — Canaan Smith makes a strong first impression with “We Got Us,” a sweetly-contented tune about the power of love. Mixing his country with a little bit of laid-back beach flavor, Smith’s melodies are very catchy and not always predictable. You may recognize him as a former contestant on The Amazing Race. “We Got Us” is currently at No. 49 in its fifth week on the chart.
Tyler Farr is a young singer-songwriter who really knows what he’s talking about. His newest song just arrived on the country songs chart and goes by the name “Hot Mess.” An upbeat number about a party girl who dances like no one’s watching, plays all the boys like a fiddle and leaves her makeup all over the bathroom counter, Farr should know since he got his start as a bouncer in Broadway’s famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. The Missouri native figured that if he showed up every night and kept asking, eventually they would let him onstage, and he was right. Maybe the same strategy will work with your local country station and some of these new songs.