The Americana Music Festival spotlights rising talent as prominently as established artists showcasing for the first time. The 15th annual gathering, which begins Tuesday (Sept. 16) in Nashville, offers exciting discoveries and new twists throughout the week.
Here are our picks for five must-see festival newcomers:
Jamestown Revival’s Utah backs elegant wordplay (“Fur Coat Blues”) with soaring melodies (“California”). The duo’s relocation three years ago from Austin to Los Angeles inspired their sharp new collection. “The record captures a two-year period when we were leaving Austin and getting to L.A.,” band member Zach Chance says. “We were feeling overwhelmed.” Results spotlight raw emotion beneath displacement and uncertain futures. (Sept. 19 at 10 p.m., Mercy Lounge)
Matt the Electrician crafts sharp narratives with equal measures heart (“Only for You”) and home (“Suitcase”). His recent It’s a Beacon, It’s a Bell doubles down. “My songs often end up being about my wife and my kids and the complexities of life as a touring musician and as a father,” the Austin resident says. Accordingly, It’s a Beacon, It’s a Bell offers uniquely personal and autobiographical portraits brimming with universal truths (“The Last Ones Left”). (Sept. 20 at 9 p.m., the Basement)
Zoe Muth’s World of Strangers effortlessly pushes (the title track) and pulls (“Mama Needs a Margarita”) country music boundaries. “I knew I wanted to do something completely different than the records I’d made before,” the Austin resident says. “Even though I think everything I do will be considered country music, I wanted this to focus more on the songwriting.” Indeed, her seamless narratives make Muth’s new album a recent favorite. (Sept. 18 at 10 p.m., Listening Room Cafe)
Amy Ray‘s new Goodnight Tender offers testimonials both sacred (“Let the Spirit Take Hold”) and secular (“Duane Allman”). The longtime Indigo Girl‘s solo effort marks a decided shift from folk toward twang. “This is the first country record I’ve made,” Ray has said. On the album, her backing band and special guests — including Justin Vernon, Susan Tedeschi and underrated Seattle guitar ace Jeff Fielder — ensure she goes country the right way. (Sept. 18 at 8 p.m., Mercy Lounge)
Trigger Hippy‘s forthcoming full-length debut showcases a veritable Americana supergroup led by elegant vocalists Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene. “Now, I don’t care about cool conversation/I just don’t have the time,” Osborne sings on the soulful clap-along “Rise Up Singing.” “One of these days I’m gonna rise up singing with you.” Expect such calm and confidence throughout the new collection. (Sept. 18 at 10:30 p.m., Cannery Ballroom)