The Lovell Sisters

Photo: Zach Arias

THE DEBUTANTES: THE LOVELL SISTERS
Sisters Jessica, Megan, and Rebecca Lovell sang in choirs and studied classical violin and piano before alighting on the musical style native to the Georgia hills they call home. Tradition isn't the whole equation on Time to Grow (2 DefPigs)—the melodies are more pop than bluegrass, though they're played on a classic trio of mandolin, fiddle, and resonator guitar (an acoustic with a metal belly, played like a lap steel).

Hear It: "In My Time of Dyin'" Listen
Rhonda Vincent

Photo: Albert Sanchez

THE QUEEN: RHONDA VINCENT
For a primer on contemporary bluegrass, check out Vincent's 14th solo album, Destination Life (Rounder). The nine-time International Bluegrass Music Association Award winner began her career at age 5 (playing with her Missouri family's band, the Sally Mountain Show). Now 47, she's a master of both breakneck-speed reels and high-lonesome ballads.

Download This: "Last Time Loving You"

Hear It: "Good Thing Going" Listen
Sarah Jarosz

Photo: S. Simontacchi

THE WHIZ KID: SARAH JAROSZ
She's an accomplished mandolin picker who wrote one of the nakedly emotional ballads on Song Up in Her Head (Sugar Hill) when she was 14—all of four years ago. Beyond precocious, Jarosz (a native of Austin) imbues virtuoso musicianship with an adventurous spirit: Her debut brackets classic bluegrass instrumentals with covers of Tom Waits and indie rock stars the Decemberists.

Download This: "Come On Up to the House"

Hear It: Sarah covers the Decemberists' "Shankill Butchers" Listen
Those Darlins

Photo: Rob Stack

THE TROUBLEMAKERS: THOSE DARLINS
Imagine the Carter Family collaborating with the Ramones—that's the one-of-a-kind alchemy of Kelley, Jessi, and Nikki Darlin (who aren't really related). Their close country harmonies date back to Nashville's earliest 45s, but on Those Darlins (Oh Wow Dang), this Tennessee-based trio adds scruffy punk-rock moxie to songs about boys, benders, and barbecue.

Hear It: "Wild One" Listen

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