The end of year look-back at the tunes that we highlighted in 2019 is both interesting and a little frustrating. Good to review the diversity, talent, production values and creativity that emanated from the traditional sources and further afield, but also tinged with disappointment that so few received the widespread recognition that they deserved.
It remains as difficult as ever for new artists to break into the mainstream. It’s pretty much impossible for independent artists to achieve recognition. For every Luke Combs who pitches at the table, there are hundreds who may share his talent but don’t have the magic ingredient, whatever that may be.
Even an artist who makes the sacrifice and commitment to up sticks and relocate to Nashville has to join the ever lengthening queue. Recognition and support from major labels isn’t always a guarantee of fame and fortune. It’s a tough and competitive world out there if you want to sing Country Music for a living.
We have highlighted our favourites with new release round-ups throughout the year. The lists included mainstream and emerging artists, but the emphasis was always with the underdogs. Luke Bryan will always chart with his next single. The guys highlighted below probably won’t. If you were betting on the outsiders in 2019, you would have lost your stake.
However, 2020’s another year. They will continue to release quality music and hope that the next release will be the one, and we will continue to do our bit to support them!
Here’s our ten picks. In no particular order….
JO JO MASON – ‘BETTER ON YOU’
The definition of “ones that got away” is perhaps relative. This particular tune peaked at #7 in the Canadian Country chart. It was JoJo Mason’s biggest chart hit to date and will be featured on his next album. However, it won’t be played at Nashville Nights or Country Hits Radio.
If there is a better example of R&B-infused Country Music, we are yet to hear it. As you might have guessed, JoJo is Canadian, has released one album to date and was nominated for the rising star award at the Canadian Country Music Awards. He’s definitely one to watch.
SEAFORTH – ‘LOVE THAT’ / ‘TAKEN YOUR PICTURE’
Here’s a prediction… Seaforth could be the break-out act at C2C in 2020. Give them a good slot on the Indigo and they will be the talk of the festival.
We have highlighted the best two tracks from their 4-track EP, released in April this year. It was the best EP we heard this year by a country mile. Tom Jordan and Mitch Thompson are Aussie lads who moved to Nashville from Seaforth, Sydney in 2017, and have since been signed by Sony Nashville. They have toured and recorded with Michell Tenpenny, and have recently supported Keith Urban in Australia.
They are immensely talented. The harmonies are glorious and they have a great sense of humour. Dan interviewed them recently at Sony Nashville HQ – check out the video interview on the site.
2020 will be their year.
BREE DOSTER – ‘BACK TO WHAT BROKE ME’
This was released in October and was part of a six-track EP ‘Chasing Ghosts’, released on High West Records.
Lovely pedal steel introduction and vocals. Great song, and a fine introduction to a new artist. A perfect example of the talent that is waiting to be discovered in 2020.
HOLLOWAY ROAD – ‘MY LOVE’
Jack and Rob have been part of our furniture since we began this YLIAS venture. It’s always an absolute pleasure to interview them and highlight their musical output. We have seen them develop into a band that is right at the forefront of our UK scene and their output never disappoints.
They need that one big break, however. That tune that enables them to reach the next level. We thought ‘My Love’ might just do it – great radio song and awesome production as ever. 2020 awaits..
BRETT KISSEL – ‘DRINK ABOUT ME’
We have previously talked about the performance of Brett Kissel at Buckle and Boots in 2019. He closed the festival on Sunday evening and blew everyone away. He came without any fanfare. In his native Canada he’s a big deal but here in the UK he was ‘Brett who??’
This was the perfect summer record. A song that should have created a buzz. He has a new album out tomorrow.
Those of us who were at the festival in May this year would definitely want to see him back in the UK very soon.
KEVIN MCGUIRE – ‘THE NIGHT IS YOUNG’
Hugely talented, driven, hard working and a top man.
‘The Night Is Young’ is up there with the best that has come out of Nashville this year. This would be the perfect US country radio tune. Great production, infectious singalong song writing and delivery by one of the best that we have here in the UK.
We know that he has big plans for 2020 and our hope is not to include a Kevin McGuire single in our ‘Ones That Got Away’ list for 2020. He just needs that one big break. We’re rooting for you Kev!
JAMIE LIN WILSON – ‘ALICE’
Back in August we came across this little gem from South Texan, Jamie Lin Wilson. It hits the traditional rootsy country spot with strings, steel and percussion, and it does what all good country songs should do. It tells a story.
She’s a good pal with Wade Bowen. We need to give him a shout to bring Jamie along when he next pays us a visit!
HUDSON MOORE – ‘COMING HOME’
We loved this song in the summer and still include it on our current playlist.
He originates from Fort Worth Texas and has been recording for a couple of years now. Another song that would sound great on the radio.
BRANDON RATCLIFF – ‘SLOW DOWN HOMETOWN’
We featured this back in August and had high hopes that this would be massive. It had everything going for it. A new deal with Monument Records who are linked with Shane McAnally, an extremely radio-friendly tune and a guy who seemed to be hitting his stride in terms of exposure and hype.
We know that these things sometimes take a while. Russell Dickerson was the perfect example and Brandon has a slot at Stagecoach Festival, California in April 2020, so this track might have legs yet.
JESS THRISTAN – ‘YOUR TURN’
We just had to include this one. In terms of exposure, this song did its job. It was featured extensively on UK country radio and introduced the masses to the delights of Yorkshire’s Jess Thristan, who is literally “just getting started”.
Expect new music from Jess in 2020, and if it’s of the quality of ‘Your Turn’, she’s got a great future. Again, a UK artist who would be capable of going head to head with Nashville’s finest.
So there we are. 10 songs that we won’t be forgetting.
2020 is just around the corner and our trawls for the new release lists are about to begin all over again. Happy New Country Music Year guys!!!