So, You Like Phoebe Bridgers? Here Are 9 Up-and-Coming Folk Artists You'll Love
Get acquainted with these musicians now before they make it big.
Now that she has a Grammy nomination, a viral TikTok dance, and a (literally) smashing Saturday Night Live performance to her name, everyone's eyes have been on Phoebe Bridgers lately.
On the heels of her highly-acclaimed sophomore album, last year's Punisher, Bridgers has gone from an angel-voiced industry darling to a full-blown household name. With her whip-smart sense of humor, trademark all-black outfits, and immense talent at just 26, indieheads and normies alike are boarding the Phoebe Bridger bandwagon like it's the only route to a vaccine.
It's true that Bridgers has a lot of music in her catalog already; aside from her two solo albums, she plays in the band boygenius, alongside Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, and in Better Oblivion Community Center with emo/folk godfather Conor Oberst. But if for some reason that just isn't enough, we've got you covered with a crop of up-and-coming folksy artists who, in one way or another, are bound to strike a chord with fans of Bridgers. Take a listen below.
While its name might sound more fitting for a heavy metal band, Skullcrusher — the solo project of New York-born musician Helen Ballentine — is a master class in airy, understated folk. Her self-titled debut EP is full of gorgeous melodies, and fans of Bridgers will appreciate Ballentine's double-tracked vocals on songs like "Places/Plans." Toeing the line between traditional singer-songwriter music and dreamy ambient, Skullcrusher offers a pleasant escape.
"in 2023 Phoebe Bridgers is gonna drop her third album & the opening track will be about hooking up in the car while waiting in line to get vaccinated at dodger stadium and it's gonna make me cry," Jensen McRae tweeted in January, a perfectly on-the-nose joke that even got the attention of Bridgers herself.Surely enough, less than a month later, McRae released "Immune," her own imagination of what Bridgers' post-virus single might sound like. Sure, it's technically a parody, but McRae's voice is enough to solidify her status as a future star.
If you're craving cathartic screaming a la "I Know the End," Samia is sure to scratch the itch. The New York City musician's voice wavers seamlessly between gentle crooning and emotive belting.Like Bridgers, Samia delights in creating poignant stories out of the seemingly mundane: "There's a restaurant in the East Village / Where all the waiters are celebrities," she sings on "Waverly," a highlight off her recent debut album, The Baby.
Self-described "queer & trans songmaker" Anjimile creates neo-folk that's just as fitting for crying as it is for dancing. Those who associate Bridgers' music with sapphic longing might take a liking to "Maker," a song Anjimile wrote after coming out to their parents. Their album Giver Taker explores painful topics like substance abuse, grief, and searching for personal identity, as they interweave gut-wrenching lyrics with rootsy, lilting acoustic riffs.
If you keep close tabs on Bridgers' music outside of her solo work, you might already be aware of her longtime pal Charlie Hickey. The 21-year-old musician is finally putting out music of his own, with his debut EP Count the Stairs arriving later this month.
His first two singles, "No Good at Lying" and "Ten Feet Tall," both feature Bridgers on backing vocals, priming him for the same dreamy, sprawling folk-rock that Bridgers fans have come to love. Now is the time to get acquainted with Hickey before he inevitably blows up.
Jamie B. is a new singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles who also bears a real-life connection to Bridgers; her latest single, "Calling the Shots," was produced by Harrison Whitford, who plays in the former's live band. The lovesick song features a heavy dose of reverb, giving Jamie's featherlight vocals an especially ethereal touch.
Tenci is the project of Chicago musician Jess Shoman, who makes exemplary DIY singer-songwriter music. Her debut album, My Heart Is an Open Field, is full of hushed vocals and stunningly spare arrangements that Elliott Smith — Bridgers' personal hero — would've been proud to write.
Shoman's lyrics often utilize surrealist symbolism, and if you're smitten with Bridgers' clever one-liners, this album is a real treat: "I can't pretend I'm not a dog tied to a porch," she sings on "Blue Spring."
Aussie musician Jessie Monk is reviving the '70s singer-songwriter movement. With complex fingerpicked guitars, crystalline vocals, and a penchant for storytelling, songs like "Turns Out I'm Someone Else" evoke folk greats like Joni Mitchell.
Indigo De Souza
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, Indigo De Souza makes down-to-earth indie pop. While her sound veers more towards rock than Bridgers' folk, the two share self-deprecating lyrics that are guaranteed to soothe the sad girl that lives in us all.
"When am I gonna get out of bed like everybody else does? / When am I gonna get a better head like everybody else does?" she sings on standout track "Take Off Ur Pants." Often yearning and at times irreverent, De Souza is a delight for the moments when you just need to sulk with some dark humor.