Since his days as Maine's most promising troubadour, this former shoe-factory worker has risen to the top with his gravelly, breathy delivery and intimate songwriting style. And on his latest, last year's God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise (RCA), he established himself in the first rank of country-folk singers, backed by pedal steel and even a couple of rockin' tempos. There are enough verse-chorus hooks to distinguish him from the more experimental freak-folk gang and enough soulful longing to get the ladies swooning, but the down-tempos, melodic left turns, and those crafty, modest arrangements make for an honest sound that also distinguish him from his major label corhort.
2. Mumford & Sons
3. Low Anthem
4. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.