Dean is a new online writer. He usually writes movie and music reviews.
One of my pet peeves is when a person says that country music is not like it used to be. I beg to differ. While "pop country" has definitely taken off and become popular among a lot of younger people, there are still quite a few artists who strive to keep that old school country sound alive. The artists on my list are my favorite country artists playing today. You probably won't hear these artists played on the radio, but you can always check them out on youtube and add them to your playlist.
Country music isn't dead. You just have to search a little bit to hear new great artists.
The 10 Most Underrated Country Artists
- William Michael Morgan
- Randall King
- Flatland Cavalry
- Dillon Carmichael
- Josh Ward
- Casey Donahew
- Kacey Musgraves
- Ray Fulcher
- Sturgill Simpson
- Jason Cassidy
1. William Michael Morgan
Born: May 13, 1993
From: Vicksburg, MS
I have been a fan of William Micheal Morgan for a long time now. He has an incredible voice that fits beautifully with his old school sound. His songs about heartbreak will tear you down. His lyrics are rich with metaphor.
This guy is something special and I think when he gets recognition, he will be the next George Strait. When people figure out who William Michael Morgan is, he will blow up the country music scene.
You could move to Austin
Or the dark side of the moon
You could change your number
I'd try every combination 'til I got to you
— William Michael Morgan, "Gone Enough"
2. Randall King
Born: January 1
From: Hereford, Texas
Randall King is a throwback to classic country music. His voice is deep and beautiful, like George Strait. The second his music plays, you'll think it is a song from the '90s. His better songs, in my opinion, are his sad heartbreak songs. He sings about taking his heart on a "heart break," so he can focus on himself and repair his heart. He sings about burning the memory of lost love. His music is relatable if you have ever felt the pain of heartbreak, but his beautiful voice makes the songs easy to listen to. I just hope I get to hear this guy play on the radio soon because the world needs to hear what he has to say.
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'Cause I want everything about you
Goin' up in smoke
I'm gonna douse it down with whiskey
So it ain't burnin' slow…
— Randall King, "Burns It at Both Ends"
3. Flatland Cavalry
Origin: Lubbock, Texas
Flatland Cavalry is another band from Texas. They have a unique sound, like something you would find in an old western movie. Most of their songs speak to the loneliness and heartbreak we all feel. Their lyrics include great metaphors that bring up powerful memories.
They do not have a load of party or drinking songs, but if you are into sad country music to play in the dark, Flatland Cavalry is the one for you.
Years from now we’ll all be a little weathered and gray
Not much different than the stools we’re sittin' on
We’ll laugh about the hard times and relive the glory days
And wonder where the hell the time has gone
— Flatland Cavalry, "Yes From Now"
4. Dillon Carmichael
Origin: Burgin, KY
Dillon Carmichael's rough and gnarly voice resembles Randy Travis and Trace Adkins. It comes out beautifully with anything he sings. He is a rare breed in today's country music scene. A lot of artists have that beautifully deep voice, but Carmichael's is so unique that it sets him apart from others.
His love ballads are what get to me. They are beautiful. They are heartfelt. They mix perfectly with that voice of his.
Heaven ain't ever seen an angel like you
With a soul so bright you light up the room
Nobody's ever gonna love you the way I do
'Til death do us part…
— Dillon Carmichael, "Dancing Away With My Heart"
5. Josh Ward
Born: May 15, 1980
Origin: Houston, TX
Josh Ward hails from Texas, where he's become very popular on social media. This guy is what country music is all about—clever writing and heartbreak. His voice is deep and sorrowful when he sings about not being afraid of dying because he has nothing to live for.
Just like the classics, Ward's pain is felt in his voice when he sings such gut-wrenching lines that hit the heart like a mack truck. Just give this guy a listen and you will understand what country music is all about!
Preacher used to preach about fire and brimstone
I was shakin' in the shoes in the pew I sat on
12 years old, afraid of where I'd go
10 years later wonderin' how I got here
Where neon burns and they sell cold beer
Heaven seems so far away
— Josh Ward, "The Devil Don't Scare Me"
6. Casey Donahew
Born: April 21, 1977
From: Burleson, Texas
Casey Donahew is a Texas country singer who sings mainly about heartbreak. He has said that when you get your heart broken, you got a lot to say. That is what resonates with me when I listen to Donahew—heartbreak. His songs are sad as hell, but their storytelling is unique.
Something that I love most about old country music is the pain in their singing as they tell the story of lost love. We feel what they sing because it sucks to lose a person that you are in love with. Donahew brings back that old school, heartbreaking country era that I love so much. That is why he is the one I turn on to get into my feels.
It's not your fault that you're not her
It's just this memory in my head
You know you always want the ones that you can't have
But still I tear myself apart
— Casey Donahew, "Drove Me to the Whiskey"
7. Kacey Musgraves
Born: August 21, 1988
Origin: Golden, Texas
I am kind of cheating here because Kacey Musgraves has gained popularity and has been heard on the radio. However, she has taken a different approach to her music than the "snap tracks" that I felt the need to include her on this list.
Musgraves has incredible talent. She began songwriting at the age of eight and began playing instruments at twelve. There is no denying that she has a knack for what she does.
Musgraves' music can have some pop music influence, but her songwriting is what comes into play with her. Her songs are uplifting and beautiful. My favorites of hers are merely about life. Her beautiful voice and clever writing is what puts her above the rest of female artists with me.
Well the sky is finally open, the rain and wind stopped blowin'
But you're stuck out in the same old storm again
You hold tight to your umbrella, well, darlin' I'm just tryin' to tell ya
That there's always been a rainbow hangin' over your head…
— Kacey Musgraves, "Rainbow"
8. Ray Fulcher
From: Harlem, Georgia
Ray Fulcher was born and raised in Georgia. After seeing Eric Church in concert, he was inspired to go out and buy a guitar at the age of 21. This guy came on my radar through Luke Combs. Combs shared a piece of Fulcher's single, "Ghost," on Instagram and I was immediately a fan.
Fulcher has many songs as of right now and has gained a lot of popularity. His single, "Ghost," is a sad song about the memory of a girl following him everywhere he goes. It is a perfect example of how memories can impact a lost love. His voice fits the dark tone beautifully to create a haunting song.
The bridge of the song, "I know when the times right that I'll find somebody new until then I'm stuck here with you." That lyric exemplifies how memory can keep a woman alive even though she has moved on. In a way, you are stuck with them without them physically being there. Just amazing music from Fulcher.
It ain't the space it ain't the way
You made a clean break outta goodbye
It ain't the touch of your midnight love
That keeps me up all night…
— Ray Fulcher, "Ghost"
9. Sturgill Simpson
Born: June 8, 1978
Origin: Jackson, Kentucky
Sturgill Simpson is a unique breed in today's country world. The outlaw country artists of the past did not play by the rules and did things their way. I'm talking about Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. They were known to be drug and alcohol addicts. They had their demons and this came out in the music they played. Simpson was a drug dealer in high school. He spent a few years in the Navy after high school.
That is what I love about Simpson. He does not play by anybody's rules. This can turn a lot of people off because nobody can really put a thumb on what his music is. He recently released a very stylistic rock album against an anime movie. He is very experimental. His voice is reminiscent of Waylon Jennings. His music is sad and lonely while also being very beautiful. If you are into the Jennings era of music then Simpson would be your best pick.
I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be
But if you wait around a while, I'll make you fall for me
I promise, I promise you I will…
— Sturgill Simpson, "The Promise"
10. Jason Cassidy
Born: July 17, 1977
Origin: Houston, TX
I recently discovered Jason Cassidy while scrolling through youtube. Cassidy was born in Texas and started out playing in bars. His most famous song is titled "What If." It aired on CMT's 12-Pack Countdown. The song reached the #1 spot and remained there for nearly five months.
What makes Cassidy special to me is his voice. Like many others on this list, Cassidy has a George Strait sound in his voice. His music is not about dirt roads, trucks, or whatever else that is considered "country." Cassidy's hit, "What If," is a perfect example of the kind of artist he is. The song is heartbreaking and questions the "what ifs" in a failed relationship. It will make you stop what you're doing and think about that relationship that went south.
You say you've heard this all before
And you can't take the lies anymore
But baby before you walk out the door
I won't make you cry, make you cry anymore
— Jason Cassidy, "What If"