As you all may or may not know, I co-host a country, bluegrass, and folk show from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. While I’ve always been a folk guy, not so long ago I barely listened to either country or bluegrass.
The reason for this is that my introduction to country was through my parents, who mostly listened to commercial or stadium country: Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, etc. I think for many in my generation, this is unfortunately what we know country music to be.
Authenticity is what defines country music and these artists just do not come off as authentic through their music. However, a couple of years ago, I was introduced to Tyler Childers’ 2017 album “Purgatory”. It shocked me how authentic this record was, despite its popularity.
Since listening to that record, country has become one of my favorite genres. I have become a fan of so many excellent, true-to-their-core country artists that I want to share with those of you who might be interested in the genre but don’t know where to start.
These artists are all modern country artists (all started releasing music in 2010s) and they are also are quite popular. However, I think that these artists all show that great country music is still being made and provide a variety of different sounds within the genre.
Tyler Childers is a guitar player, singer and fiddler from Kentucky. Starting his career in 2011, Childers had his breakthrough release in 2017 with “Purgatory”, which was produced by Sturgill Simpson, another artist on this list.
I would recommend starting out with “Purgatory” if you want somewhere to get starter with Tyler Childers. After that, his first album, “Bottles and Bibles” is also good, but you could truly listen to anything by him after you check out “Purgatory”.
Colter Wall known for his gruff, deep vocals and his guitar playing. From Saskatchewan, Canada, Wall released his first EP in 2015 after he left college. He has released five studio albums since then, the last one being released in 2020.
All of Colter Wall’s work is so solid, I don’t think there’s a stand-out album to listen to first. I’d check out his discography in the order which he released in, so you can see how his sound has developed over time.
Sturgill Simpson is a guitar player and singer from Kentucky. Starting his solo career in 2013, he released “High Top Mountain”, which is my favorite record by him. He has released seven albums since starting his solo career. His last album, “The Ballad of Dood & Juanita”, is a story album and another one of my favorites.
If you want a story about a gunfighter, then you should check out his latest album. However, if you just want some good country music, I’d start at the beginning of his discography. Simpson is another artist that you cannot go wrong with, all his music is consistently great.