Picks and Pans Main: Nine New Stars Worth Listening to
updated 03/12/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 03/12/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT
WHO SHE IS: As an 8-year-old, the Waterloo, Iowa, native used to sing Patsy Cline for three hours a day. "I still warm up to her music," says West, 26, who moved to Nashville after high school.
DOWNLOAD: "Blue Sky," a ballad about surviving a bad breakup.
HER INSPIRATION: "My parents were going though a separation after 32 years of marriage," she says. "This song is my mom's feelings on paper. She is saying, 'I'm not your blue sky. I am not your sunshine anymore. Now you want me back, but you should have fought for me then.' It was a validation for her; she felt empowered. I hope it gives courage to a lot of women who felt they were the best part of a relationship."
WHO HE IS: The former punk rocker from Richmond, Va., traded his mohawk for country music in his 20s. "Stylistically, you couldn't think of two things more opposite," says Stevenson, 33, of the genres. "But they both come from the heart and tell the truth."
DOWNLOAD: "No Tomorrow Here Tonight," a song about taking a risk on love.
WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT THE SONG: "It's all about letting go and letting loose. I can relate to that."
GO TO PEOPLE.COM/COUNTRY DOWNLOADS
WHO HE IS: Reared in Poyden, Ark., he moved to Nashville three months after graduating high school. "I grew up with a population of, like, 300: one school, a little store and no stoplights," says Moore, 23. "Country music explains that way of life, which is why I love it."
DOWNLOAD: "I Could Kick Your Ass," a song about teaching a cocky guy a lesson.
HIS INSPIRATION: "My producer started writing this song as a joke, but I said, 'We've got to finish it,'" he says. "Let's be honest: It's one of those things everybody in the bar on Saturday night can sing along to."
WHO SHE IS: With her hit "Country Girl," Palmer, 26, became the first black woman to land on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in 20 years.
DOWNLOAD: "Hold On to Me," a ballad about unrequited love.
HER INSPIRATION: "I've been in a similar situation as this song, where you're in love with someone but that person's heart is somewhere else," says Palmer, who is single. "So this song touches me when I sing it."
WHO HE IS: Before launching his singing career, he was Larry the Cable Guy's road manager.
DOWNLOAD: "This Town Needs a Bar," a song about drowning your troubles.
WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT THE SONG: "Everyone has days when you don't want to deal with something," says McComb, 26. "You just want to go have a drink and hang."
GO TO PEOPLE.COM/COUNTRY DOWNLOADS
ONE FLEW SOUTH
WHO THEY ARE: Former solo artists Chris Roberts, Royal Reed and Eddie Bush formed the group in 2005.
DOWNLOAD: "My Kind of Beautiful," a song about meeting the woman of your dreams.
WHAT THEY LOVE ABOUT THE SONG: "It's country, but it has a rocking side to it," says Bush, 32. "It has an edge."
WHO SHE IS: Last year the 16-year-old Sugarland, Texas, native scored a hit with "17 in Abilene."
DOWNLOAD: "Let Him Go," a ballad about not getting the guy.
HER INSPIRATION: "I wrote 'Let Him Go' after watching My Best Friend's Wedding on TV," says Armiger. "There've been guys I liked, but they liked my best friend. But that was in high school, so no one was getting married!"
MONTY LANE ALLEN
WHO HE IS: The Lockhart, S.C., native was a guitarist and backup singer for Alan Jackson for five years.
DOWNLOAD: "Fallin' Water," a love song originally written as a valentine to his wife, Stacy.
HIS INSPIRATION: "I was standing outside my house, and there was a soft rain coming down," says Allen, 41. "Each raindrop wrapped around and caressed the patio furniture. It was a beautiful thing to see. I am drawn to Stacy like that. She draws me in and I'm that falling water. I'll tell you this: If more guys told their girlfriends and wives stuff like this, they would get along a lot better. Send it to them for Valentine's Day and see what you get!"
WHO THEY ARE: Childhood pals Buck Johnson and Damon Johnson teamed up with fellow singer-songwriters Seven Williams and Wally Brandt in 2006.
DOWNLOAD: "Last Train Running," a bluesy track about living life to the fullest.
THEIR INSPIRATION: "My wife suffered from anorexia," says Williams, 35. "When you start to look at life and death, you think about how you want to act under pressure."