New EPs: The Brothers Roberson, Riah Butler, Kody West

Inevitably once a song is released into the world, it may take a different trajectory than an artist intended. Some burn quickly and fade even faster; others linger in our memories like cherished friends.  The pressure on young independent artists to make music that will be worth remembering must be immense, yet they continue to tackle the task with the relish, care, and discipline that the act of creation requires.

Of course only time will determine which budding acts will receive long-term acclaim, which tunes stick in our collective consciousness. Fortunately the trio of EPs below reveal distinct young talents who approach country music from different perspectives, yet all display a level of thoughtfulness and maturity that should serve them well in the future.

thecold_brothersrobersonArtist: The Brothers Roberson

Hometown: Springfield, Missouri

EP: The Cold

Sound: Tender contemporary country with a romantic twist

Other recordings: The Brothers Roberson, A Place You Can Run To

No-so-secret weapon: Everyman appeal mixed with warm sincerity

Personal favorites: “Put It On”, “Back”, “The Cold”

Most importantly: Brothers Rhett and Brendan (who won the 2015 Country Showdown) seem determined to stake out their own space in country music. Neither falling firmly into the traditional nor mainstream camp, they engage their audience without pandering, offering a more adult, somewhat nostalgic alternative to some current Top 40 sounds.

Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

onsundaysArtist: Riah Butler

Is Riah short for something?:  Mariah

Hometown: Galway, Ireland

EP: On Sundays

Sound: Powerhouse country-pop

Not-so-secret weapon(s): Songs written by some of Nashville’s best (including the killer Hailey Whitters/Bonnie Baker-penned title track), vibrant vocals

Personal favorites: “On Sundays”, “Lonely Anywhere”, “The River in Me”

Most importantly: Much like the pop diva who shares her name, listeners will first notice Butler’s formidable voice. Once they’re hooked, they’ll gain even more appreciation for her interpretative abilities as she ably voices an array of plucky heroines with humor and heart.

Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

kodywest_highergroundArtist: Kody West

Hometown: Denton, Texas

EP: Higher Ground

Sound: Fiery Texas country that also branches into bluegrass and folk

Other recordings: acoustic EP

Not-so-secret weapon(s): Explosive arrangements married to frank lyrics, grit

Personal favorites: “Playing Cards”, “Horses”, “Fatal Love”

Most importantly: While he’s yet to reach the lofty heights of his songwriting heroes, West’s new EP captures both the scope of his influences (country, rock, and bluegrass) and his own fierce ambitions. Not afraid to experiment, he proves to be equally adept at propulsive rockers and reflective ballads. He’s one to watch.

Purchase: iTunes | Amazon