When we fall in love here at Holler we fall hard and fast.
Whether it's a new Appalachian six-piece from Kentucky or a country-pop duo from the heart of Music City, when we go in, we go all in.
So, get ready for another of Holler's monthly round ups of our latest loves; a who's who of the most exciting prospects to begin leaving their mark on the country and Americana landscape.
For October 2023, we've got a Brooklyn harpist whose third album pushes the boundaries of what country-folk is considered to be, a rag tag slacker country outfit from Philly who sound like a cross between Gram Parsons and Girls, and a Grammy winning noughties pop star who’s crossed over into country with startling results.
Here's Holler's 10 New and Upcoming Country and Americana Artists You Need to Know for October 2023.
“Don’t pull your punches when you meet God in the desert after dark,” Lizzie No says, as she introduces us to the character at the centre of her third album. “If your life has turned into a car wreck, honk the horn until you get free. Miss Freedomland wrestled self-hatred, and violent men, and alcohol for 15 years but never gave up hope of being blessed. Nobody scares her anymore.”
Three albums in and Lizzie No continues to defy categorisation. Worshipped in the broad church of Americana, like the artists to whom she’s most often compared - Allison Russell, Rhiannon Giddens and Adia Victoria – Lizzie No’s work pulls from the rhythms and traditions of blues, folk and country, but collaborations with Pom Pom Squad, Domino Kirkie Kill Rock Stars’ Brian Dunne bring out the Brooklyn singer songwriter’s influences from more unusual quarters.
The harpist and guitarist’s third album, Halfsies, follows the turbulent journey of its central character, Miss Freedomland (a character that represents both No herself and her audience) as she searches for freedom from the depths of despair and an escape from the frightening realities of life in modern America.
“Some albums are stories, some are films. This album is a video game,” explains No. “If you’re in these songs with me, what seems at first like a journey of self-analysis becomes a journey to get free, and get your people free, as well.”
Along with contributions from Brian Dunne on ‘Lagunita,’ the album also features guest vocals from Allison Russell and strings from Grammy Award-winning group Attaca Quartet.
Lizzie No began turning heads and winning over hearts with the release of her debut album, Hard Won, back in 2017, when she immediately established herself as one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary American folk music.
Drawing comparisons with Linda Thompson, Karen Dalton and Sandy Denny, her country-tinged folk found its influences in traditional roots music from both sides of the Atlantic. The album’s standouts ‘Outlaws’ won the American Songwriter Magazine Lyrics Prize as it poked fun at the outlaw myth, while ‘Killing Season' was an incendiary response to police brutality and the events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement made all the more powerful by the singer’s unfaltering delivery.
The album’s follow up, Vanity, continued her unsparing self-reflection lyrically as she pushed her folk sound into alt-pop territory, while a pair of singles on the Colemine Records label, ‘Sweeter Than Strychnine’ and ‘Stop Bothering Me’ introduced her straight up soulful side.
Halfsies is an exploration of the relationship between individuality and belonging that crosses over with Lizzie No’s side hustle as co-host of the Basic Folk podcast, where she has interviewed everyone from Ben Harper to Valerie June to Kishi Bashi.
The erasure of Black artists is central to the myth of country music - what it means, what it stands for, where it comes from - and so simply by standing on stage and singing as a Queer, Black woman, whether it be in theatres across the country with the Black Opry, or leading Queer Line Dancing nights with the Lavender Country tour, Lizzie No is a protest singer and her songs are protest songs.
Their songs are descendants of white protest folk singers like Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez that draw equally from the soulful spiritual folk stylings of Odetta, the upside-down guitar picking of Elizabeth Cotton and the magnetic calm of Joan Armatrading.
Loaded up with dismay and outrage, her powerful, unwavering voice mixes a bleak recognition of the way things are with a quiet hope for what they could be.
“To be Black in America is to be a stranger in a strange land, a character dropped into a video game in the middle of the fight, pressed with the task of finding your allies and sharpening your tools,” they say. “Many of us are so afraid to be free that we choose to get comfortable with bondage. But Nina cried power and Toni told the ghost stories so that Miss Freedomland would have a map to somewhere new.”
Lizzie No has that same map firmly in her grasp and she’s leading the way.
Halfsies by Lizzie No is released on January 19th 2023. The single ‘Lagunita’ is out now.
Listen If You Like: Allison Russell, Adia Victoria, Soak
The music of Florry sits at a crossroads where Gram Parsons and Exile on Main Street-era Rolling Stones meets the melodic slacker pop of early Mac DeMarco and the fuzzy ramshackle charm of a K Records indie pop band.
Rag tag Philly outfit Florry are the full-band moniker of singer and songwriter Francie Medosch, whose homespun coming-of-age tales of feeling lost and small in America are driven by her raucous band, loaded up with jangling 12-string guitar, fiddle, mandolin, squawky harmonicas and lashings of pedal steel.
“I got no lovers,” she sings on Florry’s Dear Life Records debut The Holey Bible. “I'm just a real friendly gal face down in a ditch, pickin’ myself up somehow.”
Honing her longtime love of country music, the album is a mix of deliciously messy power-pop and acoustic campfire laments that sounds like the party their live shows promise to be.
There’s almost a little bit of Elvis Costello in Medosch’s quavering androgynous whine, and with its scuzzy garage guitars and hook loaded anti-country tales of heartbreak and longing, Florry have succeeded in making the record we always hoped Christopher Owens would make when he "went country" after Girls, but never ended up making.
The Holey Bible by Florry is out now on Dear Life Records
Listen If You Like: Gram Parsons, Dougie Poole, Wednesday
Not so much an artist you need to know, but more an artist you already knew but need to get to know again.
With millions of albums and singles sold, over 15 billion streams, two Grammys won, and a number one duet with Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat’s solo country debut, Along The Way, arrives a decade and a half after the singer songwriter’s first album, the triple platinum Coco, which included the summer pop smash ‘Bubbly.’
Listening back, you can catch glimpses of her country side on Coco and its follow ups Breakthrough and All Of You that Colbie Caillat now fully leans into. The light finger picking, the warm voice, the bright melodies and beachy feel of those early songs would have always been categorised as country classics in another artist’s hands.
Raised in California, she’s now been living and working in Nashville for over six years, where she discovered a fresh songwriter inside her who is ready to share her new perspectives. Inspired by heartbreak, and writing with frequent collaborators AJ Pruis and Liz Rose on Along The Way, Caillat wholeheartedly embraces her inner twang while never losing her sunny, glass-half-full outlook and bright eyed pop sensibilities.
Along The Way by Colbie Caillat is out now on Blue Jean Baby Records
Listen If You Like: Carly Pearce, Kenny Chesney, Sheryl Crow
“The storytelling and visualization of a song are important to me,” Dylan Gossett explains about his storytelling. “I’m essentially playing a movie in my head and creating a story for the listener.”
These imaginary movies playing out in his head have begun capturing audiences too. Born is Austin, Texas, Dylan Gossett first picked up a guitar in middle school after discovering Ed Sheeran, but after his first two guitar lessons “didn’t work out,” he taught himself by watching YouTube clips and thanks to some tips from his older brother.
In between listening to classics from Alan Jackson, George Strait, Journey, The Eagles, Scorpions and Boston with his family, he immersed himself in records by country outliers like Turnpike Troubadours and Cody Johnson, and it was a rendition of The Lumineers’ ‘Ophelia’ and Flatland Cavalry’s ‘A Life Where We Work Out’ that set the tone for the kind of country songs he wanted to write.
“I have Texas country roots, and I also love red dirt Americana,” he notes. “My sound is indebted to both. 50 percent of my passion is singing, and the other 50 percent is writing. That’s where a lot of the enjoyment of making music comes from.”
It was no surprise when his debut single ‘To Be Free’ exploded on TikTok, amassing over 3 million Spotify streams, but it was his song ‘Coal’ which catalysed his breakthrough when it notched up over 23 million Spotify streams.
His latest offering is ‘Beneath Oak Trees,’ a song inspired by seeing a massive oak tree on his wedding day, taken from Gossett’s forthcoming debut EP, No Better Time, out now.
The single ‘Beneath Oak Trees’ is out now
Listen If You Like: Zach Bryan, Noah Kahan, Sam Barber
“My ma raised me on Waylon, my pops on rock and roll,” sings Austin Snell on the title track to his latest EP, ‘Muddy Water Rockstar,’ as he shows you exactly what happens when you mix those influences up.
With a country rock sound that owes as much to Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park as it does Willie and Waylon, Austin Snell has timed his rise to perfection. With the success of artists like HARDY, Whiskey Myers and Pecos & The Rooftops, country music is undeniably having a moment with heavy rock right now, as award winning country artists are topping the country charts with records that sound louder and nastier than ever.
In the same way that recent records by Ruston Kelly, Morgan Wade and Stephen Wilson Jr. all draw as much from alternative rock as they do from their more obvious Americana influences, Austin Snell’s country rock is infused with the spirit of 90s grunge, mixing ground-out rock aggression with introspective thoughtful lyrics.
Ever since his debut single ‘Excuse the Mess’ came out in January 2023 and immediately racked up a million streams in its first week of release, the country world has been playing catch up, and a quarter of a million TikTok followers and over 50 million total streams later, Austin Snell is now poised to explode with his debut EP on Warner Music Nashville.
The Muddy Water Rockstar EP is out now through River House Artists/Warner Music Nashville
Listen If You Like: HARDY, Jelly Roll, Stephen Wilson Jr.
It’s already been an unforgettable year for the Canadian country singer Jade Eagleson. The singer from Ontario kicked off 2023 with his second JUNO nomination for Country Album of the Year and was recently named the 2023 CCMA Awards Entertainer of the Year and Male Artist of the Year. This all follows his monumental win for Top Selling Canadian Album with his sophomore release Honkytonk Revival at the 2022 CCMA Awards.
The 29-year-old’s third studio album, Do It Anyway, picks up where his last two left off, with 13 prime country cuts of polished neo-traditionalist country topped with Eagleson’s smooth and creamy baritone.
If you want a little taster sip of Jade Eagleson then we’d suggest lining up a shot of the fiery ‘Shakin’ In Them Boots’ followed by a long slurp of recent single, ‘Telluride’, and washing it all down with breakneck two-stepper ‘Rodeo Queen.’ That’s all it usually takes to develop a liking for the stuff.
Do It Anyway by Jade Eagleson is out now on Starseed Records
Listen If You Like: Midland, Jon Pardi, Drake Milligan
You’d trust Gabe Lee with anything, obviously, but you’d definitely count on him when it comes to songwriters.
It was in Asheville that Gabe Lee came across Zach Meadows while he was out on tour with Molly Tuttle, and he became a makeshift mentor to the fledgling songwriter. Two years later the pair walked into Farmland - the same studio where Lee had recorded three of his four albums - and with the help of Alex Torrez and David Dorn, both long time Gabe Lee producers, they laid down four songs that captured that effortless country-folk sound that had first drawn Lee to Meadows.
Born and raised in Florida, Zach Meadows ended up in Asheville in North Carolina where the steady flow of its rivers and the Blue Ridge Mountains seemed to infuse his songwriting with an easy Appalachian calm.
The only two singles so far – ‘Texas Two Step’ and ‘Cardinal Song’ – are so laid back they’re almost horizontal. In a world of chaos, there’s something refreshingly uncomplicated and reassuring about Zach Meadows’ simple truths and distinctly small-town Southern charms.
‘Cardinal Song’ is out now through Torrez Music Group
Listen If You Like: Brent Cobb, John R. Miller, Hayes Carll
Gabe Lee isn’t the only one who can be trusted for a solid endorsement. As soon as we read that Brandi Carlile was producing and mentoring Tish Melton we were all in.
The daughter of American author and queer activist Glennon Doyle, the 17-year-old singer-songwriter released her debut single ‘Michelle’ last month as an introduction to her introspective diaristic indie folk, documenting the ups and downs of teenage friendships and the break ups and make ups of the middle age of your late teens.
With its casually cool take on growing up and growing apart from people, her writing brings to mind the light, candid lyricism of Phoebe Bridgers and the coming-of-age sad girl confessional pop of Gracie Abrams and Girl In Red.
Her songs work in the same way that films like Edge Of Seventeen and Ghost World were able to perfectly capture the overwhelming feelings of anxiety, sadness and heartbreak that overwhelm teenage life in the pre-apocalypse.
Listen If You Like: Taylor Swift,Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers
Crafting a sound that blends country, bluegrass, alt-rock and lively folk-pop, Boy Named Banjo’s new album, Dusk, feels like their finest distillation of all their disparate influences yet.
“Our band has so many different sides and personalities to it,” says Boy Named Banjo’s Barton Davies. “One minute we might be singing bluegrass harmonies around a condenser mic, and the next we’ve got these big, distorted guitars and pounding, rock and roll drums. This album feels like the first time we’ve been able to capture it all at once, the first time we’ve been able to bottle that live energy and share it on a record.”
The Nashville-raised country outliers Boy Named Banjo have been together in some shape or form since its members were in high school. It’s been a long journey from their stripped back self-released 2012 debut, The Tanglewood Sessions, and even its more fleshed out follow up, Long Story Short, only hinted at the breadth of styles they take on across the new album.
“We wanted to make a big statement with our first full-length release on Mercury,” says guitarist William Reames, explaining how the band worked out of a series of makeshift studios with longtime collaborator Oscar Charles, laying down what would become Dusk in secret, experimenting with new sounds and recording techniques as they chased the freewheeling excitement and undeniable emotional impact of their live shows.
“Our influences have always been really broad and our sound has always been really wide-ranging, and we didn’t want to shy away from that,” says Reames. “At the end of the day, this is who we are.”
As Joey says in friends as he gleefully tucks into the dessert Rachel makes after mistakenly mixing up the recipes for Shepherd’s Pie and Trifle, “What’s not to like? Custard? Good! Jam? Good! Meat? Good!”
Dusk is out now on Mercury Nashville
Listen If You Like: Flatland Cavalry, Turnpike Troubadours, The Eagles
“Maybe it's the wrong glass ceiling to break,” says Harper O’Neill about her debut long player, Dark Bar Daisy. “But I'm telling stories about the whole human experience of being a woman.”
She doesn’t stop at the ceiling. The Dallas-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter is the kind of powerhouse country singer who can pick up any room and tear the roof off with it.
Produced by Jake Gear, Dark Bar Daisy, is a gigantic country soul record filled with lush, dynamic string arrangements and blasting Muscle Shoals horns that brings to mind recent outings from Lee Ann Womack and Connie Smith. While the demos for the records veered more closely to traditional acoustic instrumentation, arranger Jordan Lehning helped O’Neill fully realize the colourful, orchestral sonic vision she had for Dark Bar Daisy.
“I was really excited to paint with all the brushes in the studio musically,” O’Neill says. “We gave him tons of references, like Khraungbin, Silk Sonic, Lake Street Dive and some old soul references. That was the melting pot mix of sounds that I was that I was chasing.”
It serves as a bold statement of intent from one of country music’s most fearless new voices.
Dark Bar Daisy is available now
Listen If You Like: Lee Ann Womack, LeAnn Rimes, Margo Price
For more on New Country Artists here at Holler, see below: