Feb 25

acousticIf you’re in a musical rut and need to change your tune here’s a list of my all-time 50 favorite singer/songwriters. I’ve linked to a live clip that’s a good representative song for each artist. Disclaimer: this list is HUGELY skewed towards male singers (in fact there’s only one female on the list) plus, yes I play myself and of course dig my own music so I’m on there. If you have any good suggestions to balance out this list with the female gender, please make recommendations. I’ve just rarely found female singers that I connect with. But I’m sure there are great ones out there – add them in the comments if you have suggestions!

Joe Purdy
Sean Tierney
Jose Gonzalez
Nate Stone
Greg Holden
Mat McHugh
Shane Alexander
Matt Costa
Griffin House
Rocky Votolato
Brett Dennen
Dustin Kensrue
William Fitzsimmons
Colin Hay
Chad Stokes
Jack O’Neill
Ryan Adams
Jeffrey Gaines
Howie Day
Teddy Geiger
Xavier Rudd
Damian Rice
Alexi Murdoch
Conor Oberst
Elliot Smith
Jeff Buckley
Ray LaMontagne
Glen Hansard
Angus & Julia Stone
Joshua Radin
Avett Brothers
Kevin Devine
Joseph Arthur
Mike Doughty
Adam Stephens
Ryan Miller
Brian Chartrand
Mark Kozelek
Misha Chellam
Andy Mckee
Cat Stevens
Nate Ruess
Justin Vernon
Todd Snider
Sam Beam
Nick Drake
Bobby Long
John Prine
Charlie Mars
Sean Hayes

This list can’t be complete – who is conspicuously missing and who are the female equivalents to these guys?

133 Responses to “50 acoustic artists you need to know”

  1. Sean says:

    Adam, never heard Cary Brothers or M. Ward – I'll check them out. Thanks for headsup on 10/10 tour- hadn't heard of that either. I use iLike to get notified when bands I like are passing through Phx. Griffin is really good- did you see him at Rhythm Room that last time he was here?

    BTW, two other guys I completely forgot about that belong on this list: Ben Harper & Tim Reynolds. Links for the sake of consistency:


  2. Sean Tierney says:

    Suggestions via Twitter from @azbillboard

    "I'd add Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, Ry Cooder."

  3. Did Cary Brothers make the list? M. Ward? Dig both of them. Check out the Ten out of Tenn tour when it comes through. Griffin House played on it a year ago…really good musicians, all of them. (Griffin is probably my favorite "undiscovered" guy on the list…super nice guy to have a beer with too.)

  4. Sean Tierney says:

    Just got a great new suggestion from my brother- Nico Stai. Check this guy out, he's killer:

  5. maria says:

    jack johnson!

  6. taBASco says:

    Luka Bloom. He's one of my favorite (or maybe even my favorite) acoustic guitarist/artist.
    Here's a link for my favorite song Delirious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrOM4lhqqyo

    For the guitar geeks: he runs his guitar through a bass amplifier with a chorus effect and has his guitar tuned in a weird way (DADGAD). This explains his amazing sound

    (BTW: sorry for my bad english, I'm dutch)

  7. Joe says:

    damien rice
    david gray
    faithless – dont leave
    Gavin Clark
    Richard Hawley
    Steve Pilgrim

  8. Jaded says:

    Alexi Murdoch is amazing.

  9. thomas says:

    Dallas Green (city and colour) needs to be added to this list hes such a talented man

  10. Katie says:

    Uhhhh… Sorry, but last time I checked, Sigur Ros was more of a Post Rock band, not acoustic… >.<

  11. Dmenno says:

    Damien Rice and Ray Lamontagne are my heroes in songwriting.
    I learned a lot from both of them. The swell Season?
    Can you make the list some longer?

  12. Daniel says:

    Jack Savoretti

  13. Cebu News says:

    jason mraz and jack johnson please add this on the lists :D

  14. Yeah I love jack johnson's music what about andy mckee? He's good in acoustic also and that japanesse boy what was his name again?

  15. Alberto says:

    wow….you totally forgot dallas green from alexisonfire. city and colour. amazing!!

  16. no name says:

    What about otis taylor he is fantastic

  17. Craig Nichols says:

    Jesse Ruben. The Ones That Matter, best album of the year.

  18. Andy says:

    Ray lamontagne owns this list in my opinion, most underrated man in music.

  19. Sean says:

    Ani Difranco!

  20. Hafsah A says:

    Women acoustic singers (some) that I love :

    Rachael Yamagata
    Rosi Golan
    Ingrid Michaelson
    Sara Bareilles
    Carrie Newcomer

    and many many more..! =) great list!I did my research on the names that i've never heard before…thank you for expanding my music library.

  21. tom says:

    john mayer!

  22. Luke Guy says:

    Laura Marling is incredible-woman acoustic guitarist!

  23. A.Road says:

    If you haven't already, check out a guy by the name of Matt Andersen. Just incredible!

  24. pipperoo25 says:

    brendon urie
    kevin devine

  25. Awesome list. If I was to give an opinion Bret Dennen tops this list. My favourite, please also add Jack Johnson.

  26. Kelly says:

    This is a really good list! I was excited to see so many of my favorite artists on it, getting the cred they deserve!

    Awesome bands :)

  27. Joe says:

    Great to see Glen hansard on there. So talented that guy,

  28. Kid55 says:

    Jack johnson. Duh.

  29. Emily says:

    Cady Groves. Check her out! Amazing!

  30. Ben says:

    joshua james should be up there
    good to see purdy on top

  31. courtney says:

    Chase Coy

  32. Sam says:

    I'll like to add:

    Jason Reeves; he is one of the best acoustic artists I've ever heard, and his lyrics are so relatable and hypnotising, I love him!

    Amanda Seyfried; despite the fact she's only really sang one proper original song, she has a great voice and I love her song!

    Secondhand Serenade; most of their tracks are acoustic and feature amazing harmonies and certainly are a joy to listen to!


  33. Oscar Jones says:

    SJ Acoustic "I Like You" is the best acoustic song out right now

  34. Valerie says:

    Jason Reeves should be on that list. He is simply amazing. He’s poetic, and down to earth. He should be more recognized for his music.

  35. Holly says:

    Iron and Wine :))

  36. matt says:

    Ryan Keen – Thank You (and all others)

  37. fahey says:

    Bon Iver
    Brandon Boyd
    Gavin Degraw
    Jonny Craig
    Jimmy Rankin
    Matt Anderson
    Sister Hazel

  38. MR HAND says:


  39. dan says:

    aarron lewis

  40. Neon_Gear says:

    Wow. I can't believe you don't have Monte Montgomery on this list. A travesty indeed.

  41. adam says:

    joshua radin is the best! but someone i have seen nowhere in the list or comments "the civil wars"
    similar to the swell season (man woman duo)

  42. Liam says:

    Not musically amazing or anything, especially compared to some of the suggestions on here! but if you're looking to listen to somebody new to acoustic music and keen for critique, then you could always check out my page on youtube if you're feeling generous with your time. I'd actually be over the moon if you did!

    Failing that, check out city and colour – Dallas Greens acoustic side project, its beautiful

  43. Ren says:

    wow thanks for opening my eyes to some new fellas, i have had about 4 hrs of great music so far and im only 10 down the list .. i have shared so much of this on fb and the responce is great :) .. i'd love to hear some great female voces too??

  44. hayward says:

    i would turn homosexual for jeff buckley’s music. PERIOD.

  45. Sean Tierney says:

    Just discovered Nate Stone in Flagstaff – added him above and bumping Lain Archer to comments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMKiQ1lPZbM

  46. andrew says:

    fionn regan!

  47. David Marler says:

    Matt Wertz & Dave Barnes are both really great acoustic acts. Check them out…

  48. […] see other guys like Nate (not necessarily from AZ) check this list I made awhile back. The Interwebs have apparently deemed it #1 google result for “acoustic […]

  49. Green says:

    dallas green

  50. James says:

    Stornoway, British folk band. Pretty good!

  51. Biju says:

    Great compilation.
    Love the ease of use with all the YouTube links

  52. DOUG says:

    Ben Gibberd!!!!!!!

  53. Dennis says:

    …errrrr, bob dylan?!!!!????

    • Sean Tierney says:

      Dennis, I left off Dylan b/c I just assume everyone knows him as the godfather of acoustic (like leaving Einstein out when talking about great scientists). But thanks for giving him mention- he's the greatest.

  54. Jamie says:

    Check out Trevor Hall and Ben Howard. How could you leave out Ben Harper?

    • Sean Tierney says:

      Jamie, I actually had Ben Harper on the original list and he's amazing. I updated with newer, undiscovered artists since I originally wrote this and bumped him but you're right, he definitely belongs on here. Maybe it's time to expand to the "100 acoustic artists you need to know…"

  55. eric says:

    excuse me people but why is jack johnson not there and also arman srsa http://www.armansrsa.com he is awesome

  56. Samuel-James says:

    Dallas Green not being on their is an insult to music

  57. Samuel-James says:

    And John Butler for that matter!

  58. Amber says:

    Gabrielle Aplin is incredible. I don't think anyone could NOT connect with her. You can feel her passion when she sings, and it feels amazing.

  59. toby says:

    Tobias Holenstein!

  60. M.s says:

    Where is Never Shout Never? :/

  61. Rrrrrob says:

    In any acoustic listing, how can Gordon Giltrap ever be missed out?????

  62. Bradz says:

    Um… Where…the….HELL is Elliott Smith!? He was one of the most underrated songwriters that ever lived! Check out his music! You won't be disappointed! :)

  63. Frank says:

    Birdy … 15 years old.. voice will blow your miind ('without a word' , 'shelter')

  64. BorHot says:

    Why Mat Kearney is not on the list?

  65. Alan Winn says:

    Please check out Turin Brakes. Okay, technically there are two of them (Olly and Gale) so maybe outside your criteria, but the songwriting is to die for!

    Also, KT Tunstall has written some fabulous acoustic based material.

  66. becky Olive says:

    Ray Lamontagne. incredible.

  67. Paul Dean says:

    Amos Lee

  68. jamie says:

    John Mayer? Ed Sheeran?

  69. GuitarGuy says:

    Elliot Smith is in there, only the greatest ever. But rythm guitar? ummmm how about some Jack Johnson? Can he get some love?

  70. PinkDagger says:

    Matthew Jones Perry
    Benjamin Francis Leftwich

  71. Cecili says:

    Females: Jennah Bell and Madi Diaz

  72. Ben Ellis says:

    Guys missing:
    Damien Jurado
    Dylan LeBlanc
    Bon Iver
    Jeffrey Foucault
    Jesse Younan…Just to name a few

    The ladies…

    Joni Mitchell
    Brooke Fraser
    Sara Bareilles – Gravity, UH! What an amazing song!
    so so so many.

  73. Melle says:

    i am missing newton faulkner man!

  74. charles says:

    Andres Segovia, Pete Majia, Damien Rice

  75. Chris says:

    Tommy Emmanuel, Antoine Dufour. Morons I am supprised no one said Tommy Emmanuel

    • Sean Tierney says:

      dude, srsly? I'll check out those guys but keep it civil. This is _my_ top 50 list- there's probably 1000 other great artists that aren't listed but no reason to get nasty. jeesh

  76. Gabrielle says:

    Always loves acoustic music, Joshua radin, n william fitsimmon are so awesome :)

  77. Freddy Just says:

    Great lists of amazing people. I urge you to consider Luke Concannon, one of the best songwriters of his generation. He has had a massive no.1 hit…. Anyone take a guess what song?

  78. Studawg says:

    Eric Clapton Unplugged!!!

  79. AreYOUSERIOUS?! says:

    what about Dylan! are you crazy, this is the worst list ever

  80. zac says:

    zac brown and alan jackson add them to the list to.

  81. here says:

    I Am Going To have to return again whenever my course load lets up – nonetheless I am getting your Feed so i can go through your blog offline. Cheers.

  82. bunso says:

    keith urban should be on the list.

  83. rod says:

    jim croce obviously is missing!!

  84. sAMMY says:

    ED SHEERAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. jessssska says:

    Yeah, where the ffffff is Dallas Green?! He’s literally the MOST incredible thing:/

  86. ROBERT says:

    where the heck is DALLAS GREEN???????????

  87. Romo says:

    PISS ON THESE F'ing TERDS!!!! Quit smoking sage bush. Y'ALL Can Suck A Fart Out Of Ben Harper's Ass for not even mentioning BEN HARPER!!!!

  88. Jared says:

    Dallas Green aka City and Colour. A MUST have acoustic artist.

  89. Jared says:

    Search for Redemption is incredible. Great lyricist. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Search-for-Redempt

  90. asdfghjk says:

    Dallas Green

  91. tom says:

    FOY VANCE!! thats all you need

  92. Cyndy says:

    where's the women???

  93. Pepito says:

    Don't forget Priscilla Ahn

  94. Phil Rooke says:

    I’ve been looking at similar lists and no mention of the amazing Martin Sexton???… seriously???

  95. Simian Buchberger says:

    Doug Hell is the best acoustic artist living-bar none. He is the only solo acoustic artist alive that writes consistently memorable songs. Every other acoustic artist has a few good ones and the rest is boring dribble.

  96. ben says:

    laura marling she is a new level of excellent

  97. Wow it is amazing how I don’t know many of these artists you have listed. Knowing someone new from the music industry everyday just bring fresh perspective in life. There are countless of very talented musicians out there and although we can’t listen to them all. We could rest knowing that everyday a musician out there is making great music and is just waiting to be heard.

  98. Stephen says:

    Also Check out Stevia Waichulis on iToons.

  99. jonny says:

    Check out a young duo called Seafret!

  100. Bailey says:


  101. jade hill says:

    Ron pope

  102. Cheaquettaj says:

    I really like this artist ‘Tobar Fray.’ His style is very unique and he’s a good guy too. Locate him on Facebook if your interested.

  103. Andy says:

    What about Chris Cornell? his songbook tour was amazing!

  104. Phil says:

    Mat Kerekes & Peter Lannon

  105. Wiggle says:

    Karen Savoca

  106. Jim says:


  107. Alvaro says:

    You should try Josh Moore, his lately solo album is great

  108. Honor says:

    Obadiah Parker!!!!!!!!! The best artist ever. Does some amazing acoustic covers. Also, Newton Faulkner is goid

  109. Brady Jo says:

    Joe Purdy is so f#ckin good! Nice to see some other people agree! Cheers to you! @bradyjo

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