Mary Sarah's newest release was a pleasure to listen to. Mary Sarah is one of the few new female country artists who manages to successfully mix traditional country and modern contemporary country, and this EP shows that amazing skill off. Her voice is the highlight of this collection, but she also introduces her real songwriting voice to her fans, through eight powerful and catchy country songs.
Best song: There Goes That Memory Again
Voices was Karli Chayne's second EP released to iTunes, and the first taste of new music from her since her debut self-titled EP, released in August 2014. Although a new artist, the collection contained songs that show off her uniquely classic version of modern country. Country, blues, pop, and rock all show up on this seven song EP, but Chayne keeps it rooted in country, with her beautiful songwriting and her twangy vocals.
Best track: "Mercy"
Maren Morris is one of the artists most likely to truly break out next year, and become the next big thing. Her music is amazing, justifying why she deserves and why she will have much success. Her blend is utterly unique. She's not exactly country, but she's good nevertheless. This EP contains songs that are pure pop, and songs that are more soulful than country. It's a mixture of difference influences and sounds that create a cohesive, but eclectic collection of 5 tracks.
Best track: "I Wish I Was"
Veltz is now going a different direction with her music, and she has already independently released another EP this year, The White Room. But this EP was supposed to be the preview to her debut album, and it is a stellar EP. Veltz's almost angelic voice carries the beautifully-written lyrics to new heights, making it a shame that the collection was only four songs long. Whatever Veltz does do with her music next, we know from this EP that it will be incredible.
Best track: "Alabama"
Camaron Ochs, known as Cam, has been one of three new women acts to truly break out onto radio this year, along with Kelsea Ballerini and Maddie & Tae. Her single is now No.1 and nominated for a Grammy, but the EP where that single came from is not to be overlooked. Welcome to Cam Country contains four tracks that capture Cam's country and pop influenced sound perfectly. The upbeat tunes and the ballads all work together to introduce Cam to country music.
Best track: "Burning House"
Qualley is another artist to pay attention to, and this EP is the best way to get to know her and her sound. Her low voice is haunting, and her sound is unlike any other female country artist. It's eerie and odd, but in the best way possible. This EP jumps from real country music to pop and rock influenced tracks, but they all maintain one similar sound, and are all amazing, by themselves and together.
Best track: "Never Mine"
Hannah Blaylock, the former lead singer of the Big Machine country trio Edens Edge, released the first taste of her new solo material this year. Available at her live shows and on her website, My Roots Run Deep is a 6 song collection that shows that Blaylock is ready to be a solo artist. Her vocals are as strong as ever, and fans are now able to hear more of her stellar songwriting on this EP.
Best track: "Don't Want You To Go"
The Voice alum Casey Weston released her third collection of music this year, and this is her best EP yet. The tracks jump from radio friendly to more alternative, and then to softer love songs, songs that could be sung by Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift circa 2008. The EP is a love story, and each track adds something to that story. It's a masterpiece of an EP and another step forward for Weston musically.
Best track: "Lock & Key"
Alternative country duo Jill & Julia brings harmonies that rival Maddie & Tae and The Dixie Chicks on their second EP. The six songs all have a similar vibe, but all have uniquely different stories behind them, and beautiful lyrics. The EP even includes a remake of Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart." The duo turns the cringe-worthy hit into a haunting ballad that shows off their clear talent more than anything. They have such a different sound than anyone else, and they stand miles apart because of it.
Best track: "Achy Breaky Heart"
Lindsay Ellyn, not Lindsay Ell. Similar names, but completely different kinds of music. This EP sits at No. 1 because it is a raw, beautiful work of art. Ellyn made a point to not adopt the 'Nashville Sound,' and not use over glossed, and loud instruments. She instead kept it acoustic, more bluegrass or Americana influenced. Her voice is light and breathy, and absolutely angelic. Every song is a country song — they each tell a new story about real life. This EP is magic.
Best track: "Helpless"
Carly Pearce — Carly Pearce
Mickey Guyton — Mickey Guyton
Raw EP — Emily Hackett