The Shires have played the Opry, Ward Thomas are storming the charts and there’s even a Brit – Sam Palladio – in a leading role in glossy TV drama Nashville. And it’s not just the big name UK artists who’ve been proving their country and Americana credentials over the last couple of years. Here are mixed bunch of talented home-grown folk to get listening to.
Gary Quinn, Northern Ireland & Manchester
Gary [pictured above] gives contemporary country performances likely to have Chris Young fans swooning along and emotive songwriting that reminds us of the great 90s country ballads that saw Tim McGraw and his contemporaries rise. He’s got the rare combination of a voice that sounds like he’s been topping charts for years, teamed with songs good enough to hum along with on the very first listen.
Wildflowers, Bristol & Birmingham
We first saw this alt-country / folk rock band opening for Margo Price, and they (and their fiery front-woman) made a real impression. The trio, made up of two sisters Siddy and Kit and friend James, actually left the UK last year and while it’s our loss we can’t be mad at them. They signed with a U.S. label and moved to The Rocky Mountains.
Yola Carter, Bristol
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. And probably again. For those who like their country on the bluesy side – or for those who don’t yet know they do – this singer is a must listen (live if you can catch a gig). Yola brings raw, authentic roots music with a voice as big as the subjects the songs tackle.
The Southern Companion, Hampshire
Sitting somewhere on the Eric Paslay end of the spectrum this band on the soft rock side of country won the Album of the Year at the 2016 British Country Music Awards. They seem to specialise in songs about driving.
Laura Oakes, Liverpool
Laura had somehow escaped us, but hers was the name everyone shouted when we asked for your recommendations on Twitter. So, by popular demand, here’s the Liverpudlian songstress who we’ll try to catch live soon…
The Foreign Affairs, Bristol
It seems as though siblings possess magical powers when it comes to harmonies (think Ward Thomas). The catchy, upbeat folk of multi-instrumentalist brothers Adam and Lawrence keeps up that tradition. The band are currently quietly cocooned away writing new material, so look out for them when they emerge.
Hannah Rose Platt, Liverpool
A songwriter in the tradition of the great country storytellers, with lyrics that paint cinematically clear pictures. Listen to the words, get transported to a world – I’d recommend giving her songs a second listen to get the full depth.
Alan West, Devon
An oldie but a goodie. With three decades of country music under his belt he’s not new but, if Alan West is new to you, check him out for an incredible rich voice delivering traditional and timeless country.
Sasha McVeigh, Hereford
It’s always felt like we were on the verge of losing this one to the U.S.A. and now it’s officially happened. From her kickstarter funded album to now sharing the stage with top billboard artists (like Thomas Rhett, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean at stateside festivals this summer) Sasha’s properly making the move to Nashville. She’s got visa approval and everything. I suppose we should be proud we got to see her in a sticky-floored Bristol bar.
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Witt
I hope you’ll forgive us for sneaking in one or two acts that are not officially country, but this poignant folk act has become a favourite lately. They’re touring now after some silence while Johnny was gracing our Netflix screens in comedy drama Lovesick.
We were sent loads of suggestions to include and so there’ll definitely be a Part 2. Please comment below to let us know about any brilliant UK country, folk or Americana talents you think should be included in the next installment of this list.
Brits in Boots