Country outlier Billy Strings released one of the best Americana records of the year last year with Renewal. Truly a virtuoso with any string instrument, even though he comes from Kentucky coal country you will find him singing about meth much more than about mining.
Starting with Alison Krause and playing it forward on to Molly Tuttle and Amanda Shires, Bluegrass artists have been looked upon with somewhat of a skeptical ear. Much like bagpipes, a little banjo can go a long way. And then there’s Billy Strings. With a moniker like that this dude had better deliver the goods, and based on his latest record released in 2019, Home, he delivers the goods and then some. Showing he is no one-trick banjo-picking pony, the mix of Bluegrass, Country, and Cow-Punk is easily accessible to all ears that love good music.
There is not a lot to go on here after all this band has only released two songs so far, “Lilac Leaves” and “What Might Be,” but so far, really good. A really absorbing band to watch, their cracking live shows have already caught lightning in a bottle across their home town of Dublin, Ireland. Very much of the Irish Post-Punk tradition there is the unavoidable essence of U2 prevailing here for sure, but these guys look to be about to blaze their own Rock and Roll trail.
Anna St. Louis
Having already been around a bit, her 2016 record First Songs is set for a vinyl reissue in early 2020, Anna St. Louis seems on the verge of bringing her 70’s Laurel Canyon vibe to the unwashed masses. Firmly based in Folk and Country Music with songs that have a certain haunting quality about them, look for her to be popping up on the soundtracks of binge-worthy television shows in the very near future.
We already have our ears poised to be including her debut album If You hear a Trumpet, It’s Me on our list of best instrumental records of the year for 2020 and it hasn’t even been released yet. Talent exudes from every pore of this 25-year-old trumpeter. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, she has already released to the world three highly provocative singles in “Meet Me There,” “Who Are You,” and “I’m Just Sayin.”
The Glorious Sons
Any band that releases a song called “The Ongoing Speculation into the Death of Rock and Roll” simply is required to be on any self-respecting list of artists to watch in 2020. They have opened for The Rolling Stones, middled for the Struts, and very much deserve to be the more deserving Greta Van Fleet of 2020.