We all know and love Miranda and Carrie, but new female country acts have been a little thin on the ground recently.
So here at EF Country, we wanted to showcase five new female country acts we think are one to watch.
It was a struggle to whittle it down – honorable mentions to Courtney Cole and Ashley Campbell – but here are the ones we’ll be looking out for in the coming months.
This trio of three Texan siblings (all of whom have first names beginning with C) were originally discovered on the US version of The X Factor. They didn’t make it past the first week of live shows, but since then they’ve been working with country heavyweight Lee Brice as a support act. Brice also produced their first EP, which shows off their traditional country bent on tracks like Faint of Heart – a ballad lamenting the slights of modern womanhood, from the gender pay gap to relationship double standards – and meeting-the-ex-again stomper This Bar Ain’t Big Enough. Their harmonies are reminiscent of the Pistol Annies at their finest and I can’t wait to hear more from them.
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The daughter of actress Andie MacDowell, Rainey Qualley was one of the acts I really wanted to see at this year’s Country to Country festival (alas, schedules wouldn’t allow). However, since then her EP Turn Down The Lights has been on heavy rotation as it’s a great showcase for her range. She’s got some slightly rockier songs, like the break-up anthem Me and Johnny Cash, and darker gothic-influenced tracks such as Dead and Gone which uses the organ to great foreboding effect. There’s also more typically country tracks on offer like the love song Turn Me On Like The Radio and use of traditional instruments on Watered Down. But what ties in all together is Rainey’s rich, strong, almost smokey voice and great use of storytelling and imagery in her lyrics. Definitely one to look out for if you like your country in a more alternative vein.
If you’re yearning for the golden age of 70s country, then you need to give Margo Price a listen. The Illinois native has been working with Jack White (yes, he of The White Stripes and The Dead Weather) on her debut solo album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, which sounds like a real throwback record. Margo’s voice is reminiscent of the likes of Tammy Wynette and early Dolly Parton, with songs like Hurtin’ (On The Bottle) and About to Find Out brilliantly pairing uptempo driving beats with melancholy lyrics. She’s also a great songwriter with a real eye for detail and a wonderful ability to tell a story, particularly on songs like Hands of Time, Since You Put Me Down and Four Years of Chances (the latter of which feels like an answer song to Nobody To Blame). Would it be too much to say she’s a female version of Chris Stapleton? Maybe, but I’m going there…
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Canadian country seems to be the hot new thing with the likes of High Valley and Cold Creek County, and now Runaway Angel are joining the scene with the release of their debut album No End In Sight. Despite only having been together two years, they sound like they’ve been a trio for years, with strong harmonies and lyrics that are reminiscent of early Dixie Chicks, particularly on tracks like Run Angel Run, June and Tumbleweed. My Someday, meanwhile, stirs up memories of Taylor Swift in her Love Story days – not least from its fairytale-themed video – which is definitely no bad thing. My favourite thing about Runaway Angel though is that, whilst their voices blend together beautifully, each member also stands out on her individual part, and for me that’s a solid recipe for success.
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Another act on the list who’s no stranger to fame – Tara’s cousin is none other than country legend Loretta Lynn! With a pedigree like that, it’s no surpise that Tara followed in her famous relative’s footsteps and ended up in country music. Her debut single Someone To Take Your Place plays like the country version of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies as she sassily tells an ex-boyfriend he had his chance and blew it, yet she’s also able to convey raw emotion in a song like Jail, which also has wonderful wordplay in its chorus. She’s showcased a great range of versatility in what I’ve heard from her so far and I’m really excited to see what she can do with a full-length release.
Did we miss any of your favourite new female country acts from this list? Who are you looking out for this year?