Music  |  Lists

The 10 Best New Solo Artists of 2010

December 21, 2010  |  7:00am

Yesterday, we looked at our favorite bands of 2010, but it would be unfair not to mention the many great solo artists we discovered this year. These were all part of the recurring Best of What’s Next feature at PasteMagazine.com. We hope you like them as much as we do.

Here are our 10 favorite new solo artists of 2010:

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10. Eli “Paperboy” Reed
Hometown: Boston
Album: Come and Get It
For Fans Of: Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye

About 15 seconds into the title track of Eli “Paperboy” Reed’s Capitol Records debut, Come and Get It (out this month)—right when the brass kicks in and he lets out a hair-raising “Whoo!”—it becomes clear that the 26-year-old singer has more soul than he knows what to do with.

Reed passed his high-school days in Boston playing harmonica, guitar and saxophone with his school band and holing up with buddies to listen to records. (Around the same time, he also started wearing his grandfather’s old newsboy cap, which earned him an enduring nickname.) “We didn’t go to class,” Reed remembers. “We just sat in the music room and listened to music and talked about what was good and bad. I’m sure everyone thought we were assholes.”

Nothing changed when he enrolled at the University of Chicago—where running a radio show, playing at a local church and scouring record stores all took priority over classes. “I was sort of always figuring I was going to do something else while I was actively pursuing music,” Reed says. He left after a year.

About five years ago, Reed finally made music his primary focus and formed his current band, The True Loves. His musical and lyrical experiments allowed him to find his unique voice, one that reflects his profound respect for Motown’s greats. It’s classic soul for a new generation; teenagers at his shows have asked what kind of music he plays because they’ve never heard anything like it.—Ani Vrabel

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9. Keegan DeWitt
Hometown: Nashville
Album: Nothing Shows EP
For Fans Of: Jason Isbell, Roman Candle, Bon Iver

Keegan DeWitt studied film in college, but perhaps he should have been an English major. Though he first made his name by composing movie scores, and then as a member of rootsy rock-group Roman Candle, his first two solo albums are rife with literary references and inspiration. His most recent EP, Nothing Shows, released in July, was influenced by the poetry of Philip Larkin and boasts folksy, upbeat tracks with a cinematic edge.

DeWitt hopes to head to Europe again to gather some literary inspiration for his next EP, to be released sometime this winter. “I’ve been digging through all this different stuff and I have to figure out what the next piece is,” he says. “I think it has to start from removing myself and going someplace, again.”—Caroline Klibanoff

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