2018 country artists to watch: Ryan Hurd, Bailey Bryan and more

In 2017, country music experienced both an evolution and a return to form, with new artists exploring modern sounds and techniques while further honing in on the genre's songwriting-focussed soul. The artists you'll be hearing from next year will continue to bend the rules, stretching the boundaries of "what's country" even further, and, in the process, getting even closer to its touchstone: the truth. Check out the artists below to see who will be rocking your boots off in the new year. 


Jillian Jacqueline

Jacqueline’s dreamy, traditional vocals are grounded by modern production and straightforward, diary-drawn lyrics. The recently-signed Big Loud Records artist embraces video to further her artistic message, quickly establishing an easy intimacy with fans. She released her debut EP Side A in September; part B is expected in 2018.

Jordan Davis

The environmental conservationist turned MCA Nashville recording artist is picking up steam with his (surprisingly-romantic) debut “Singles You Up,” channeling Sam Hunt’s production instincts and Gavin Degraw’s heartfelt conveyance.

Stephanie Quayle

Quayle revealed her fully-formed artistry on this year’s Love the Way You See Me, a melange of songs bravely bold, sweetly reminiscent and quietly heartbreaking.

Levi Hummon

The songwriting legacy answers Kelsea Ballerini’s female perspective with pop-leaning tunes that maintain the heart and rhythms of country. On "Don't Miss The Night," Hummon takes a cue from Ed Sheeran and elevates the feeling of longing to poetic peaks, encouraging even the most timid listener to call the person they love and beg "come on, come over."

Devin Dawson

Country’s answer to John Mayer balances his self-confessed grit and darkness with a surprising amount of optimism and romance. Dawson's debut album Dark Horse is due out Jan. 19 via Warner Nashville.

Emma White

The independent artist pairs drum loops with pedal steel to relate the turmoil young love with precocious self-awareness and wisdom.

Native Run

The rising duo channel the hurt, heroism and harmonies of Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum on the clever “Sleeping in the Bed I Made,” evidencing they get sturdier and sharper with every release.

Ryan Kinder

Kinder found that raw vulnerability works with "Still Believe in Crazy Love," a life and love-affirming ballad bolstered by its equally-poignant music video, which sweetly pays tribute to the song’s late co-writer Andrew Dorff.

Bailey Bryan

As a tween, the Washington native turned to country music for hope, healing and the gospel of Taylor Swift. The 19-year-old released the pop-leaning EP SO FAR in April 2017, as well as several one-off singles and, most vitally, some Drake covers.

Ryan Hurd

A songwriter first, Hurd has crafted fresh hits for Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton and more. He showcased his casual, colloquial take on country on his debut EP and will lay it all out on a full-length set for 2018.

Steve Moakler

Moakler’s artistry is built on an almost monkish work ethic, buoyed by a reverence for the craft of songwriting and and passion for life on the road.

Logan Mize

Mize pulses with a hometown heartbeat on the nurturing “Come Back Home,” the lead single off his first independently-released full-length.

Tegan Marie

The wise beyond her years 14 year old scored tens of millions of views with her cover of Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” and is is now the youngest female country singer to sign a record deal in 45 years. The Gen Z force is working with Scott Hendricks and Nathan Chapman on her Warner Nashville debut.

Dylan Scott

Written as an idiosyncratic ode to his then-girlfriend (now wife), Scott’s “My Girl” connected with loved-up guys and girls all across the country. The Curb Records artist will spend early 2018 on the road on Justin Moore’s Hell on a Highway Tour. Check out tickets here.

Melanie Meriney

Meriney studies both sides of the story on her pumping “Lifeboat,” a solo write she came up with while waiting for a co-writer to show up. The English major continues to develop her sharp song craft by pounding the pavement as a staff songwriter on Music Row.

Christina Taylor

Taylor is wily and wise on her modern female empowerment anthem “That Girl,” studying the past while committing to a brighter future.

Ryan Griffin

Blending pop, R&B and country, the talented upstart first made a name for himself as a songwriter, co-writing Kelsea Ballerini’s smash “Dibs.” Griffin reveals a refreshing self-awareness on his current single, revealing “I Would’ve Left Me Too.” Griffin is working with renowned producer Busbee (Maren Morris, Carly Pearce) on new music coming next year.


The Missouri native explores lust and passion on his R&B-tinged brand of country.