10 New Country Artists You Need To Know - January 2018

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RollingStone.com - January 2018

Sounds Like: A no-holds-barred, confessional singer-songwriter who excels at relatable tales of twentysomething angst

For Fans of: John Mayer, Jason Isbell, a super-talented version of that shaggy-haired guy who always busts out the acoustic guitar at a house party

Why You Should Pay Attention: He’s been a fixture on the Texas live-music circuit since releasing his cult-favorite debut, 2013’s The Limestone Kid, but with last November’s Probably Wrong, the Austin-based McCollum proved his staying power. “The word ‘honesty’ is what sticks out,” he says of the difference-maker with his new album. Crafted in the wake of a devastating breakup, the album features a steady stream of gut-wrenching songs including “Hell of a Year” and “I Can’t Breathe.” As McCollum hops between rowdy college-bar gigs and more formal theaters, he’s noticed fans embracing more of his deep cuts. “That’s when I’m like, ‘OK, this is connecting.'”

He Says: “I sound like a broken record, but I really am just trying to be as real as I possibly can be with my music … I recently started writing a new song and I felt myself go right back to that place I was in when I wrote [Probably Wrong]. I couldn’t take it. So I put it on hold. I was like, ‘No way can I go back into that hole right now.'”

Hear for Yourself: On “Hell of a Year,” written late one night in his truck in a Whataburger parking lot, McCollum recounts the painstaking process of breaking it off with his longtime girlfriend. D.H.