Americana is a catch-all kind of genre; it often means many different things to many different people. And as the art form of Americana continues to grow, new artists are emerging every day, adding their own styles and sounds to a genre that celebrates their willingness to take risks, step outside time-worn musical tropes and explore new horizons.
Just ask the artists themselves: They're excited about the newcomers and how they're continuing to shape and grow their own genre. Scroll down to hear 15 artists fans should check out in ... recommended by their fellow Americana acts.
Recommended by Brandy Clark
“I love Brent Cobb. I really really love him," exclaims Clark, who also makes this list. "And I loved him as a songwriter first, and then when he did his record, Shine on Rainy Day -- I loved that record. He’s definitely, definitely on my list.”
Recommended by Valerie June
“I gotta tell you, I’m super excited about Margo Price," June tells The Boot. "I love her, and I’m a huge fan ... I think her presence onstage is phenomenal, and she’s such a good person. Just hanging out backstage with her, she’s so down-to-earth and so sweet. She’s pretty awesome.”
Recommended by Marty Stuart
“I was into Brandy’s songs from the first time I heard her demos, before she had a record deal," says Stuart. "I called [my wife], Connie [Smith], and said, 'I found some real songs! These are the best songs to come out of this town in a long time.' I think I hosted her on the Opry and on my TV show, but I love the songs that Brandy does. That’s real life, that’s real love, I love her stuff.”
Recommended by Joey Ryan of the Milk Carton Kids
“Caitlin Canty -- she’s got a wonderful new record that she’s made," Ryan says. "Actually, she doesn’t even know that I’ve heard it, but I heard it because [Milk Carton Kids bandmate] Kenneth [Pattengale] played it for me, and it’s wonderful."
Recommended by Kenneth Pattengale of Milk Carton Kids
“I’ve been producing this wonderful duo called Cicada Rhythm, out of Athens, Ga.,” says Pattengale, of the Milk Carton Kids. “They’re this husband-and-wife duo -- she’s a Julliard-trained upright bass player, and he’s kind of a hillbilly from the backwoods of Northern Georgia, and they sing together with such magic that it’s a delight to listen to. So I’m hoping that they get everything they deserve in the upcoming years.”
Recommended by Aaron Lee Tasjan
“I would say a guy named John Latham," says Tasjan, who's a recommended artist himself. "He’s really, really a great songwriter, and he’s got a new record, called Lifers ... it’s really, really good.”
Recommended by Elizabeth Cook
"I'm really excited about Tyler Childers, who's coming on up," Cook tells The Boot, adding that she's also a fan of Tasjan's pick, Jon Latham. "He’s a Georgia boy and just a brilliant songwriter and entertainer and singer and spirit."
Recommended by Rhiannon Giddens
“Ever since she was in Carolina Chocolate Drops, I've really loved the artist Leyla McCalla," says Giddens, who fronts the band of which McCalla is a former member. "I just think she’s just doing such beautiful work. And I wish more of a spotlight would be on her because what she’s doing is really needed -- you know, working in Haitian colk music and Langston Hughes’ poetry. She’s quite an activist, and I just really love her work.”
Recommended by the Lumineers
“I don’t know what he falls into, but Americana is great that way," says Lumineers member Wesley Schultz. "I think we all really grew to love his music. He’s Nashville based. His father, Bucky Baxter, played with Bob Dylan, but he’s just an amazing singer-songwriter, and we toured with him last year for five or six weeks, and the more we heard him, the more we fell in love with his music. So I would give a shoutout to him for sure.”
Recommended by Brent Cobb
"I love his record," Cobb tells The Boot of Tasjan's latest record, Silver Tears. Tasjan released the album in October of 2016 to rave reviews and followed it up with touring gigs alongside Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, and Shovels & Rope, along with appearances at festivals such as Pilgrimage, Bonnaroo and Stagecoach.
Recommended by Brent Cobb
Cobb is also a big fan of Paul Cauthen, who released his solo debut album, My Gospel, in October of 2016, after five years with Sons of Fathers, the Texicana band he co-founded in 2011. Cauthen's solo debut offering combines soul-inspired Americana with humbly vulnerable lyrics for a set of songs that are at once reverent and and raw.
Recommended by Jim Lauderdale
“I hate to leave people out, because there are so many good people, and I don’t want anyone to get offended," says Lauderdale before revealing who he's particularly excited about -- in part because they've already worked together! "There’s one lady I’ve seen since she was 10 years old; her name is Lillie Mae. I’ve been working on a couple of different records, and we duet on a country record I’m doing … I’m just real excited for her. Her record’s finally out, and I think she’s really going to do great.”
Recommended by John Oates
“I’ve been following Sam Outlaw for quite some time because his manager is a good friend of ours,” says Oates, adding that he's also a fan of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. “I also think back to the years past, and I remember one night when I was turned on to Carolina Chocolate Drops, and they blew everybody away.”
Recommended by Old Crow Medicine Show
“We’re really excited about Amythyst Kiah," say Critter Fuqua and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show. "She is from Johnson City, Tenn., she’s a guitar picker, African-American woman, and she’s got a great batch of songs and a powerful voice to deliver them with. Check her out!”