Ashton Shepherd - Where Country Grows

Ashton Shepherd burst onto the scene in 2008 with her album Sounds So Good. While not scoring any Top 10 hits, she still gained much acclaim with the album. Read on to see if we think the new album is as appealing or not.

“Look It Up” stalled (just like past singles) around the Top 20 but it does have the distinction of being her highest charting hit to date with a #19 peak on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, besting “Takin’ Off This Pain” by one place and “Sounds So Good” by two. The song is feisty and certainly felt like it’d be an even bigger radio hit than it was but times are tough for a female artist, particularly one as country as Ashton is. Sure, her voice has been ‘smoothed’ out a bit on the album but that Alabama drawl is still ever prevalent on the record.  The title track and Bobby Pinson co-write “Where Country Grows” followed “Look It Up” to the charts and while the song is certainly showcasing small town values and lives, it also is clever enough to know that country music is as much a state of mind as it is where you live. While uptempo and catchy enough to catch on with pop-leaning radio programmers, “Where Country Grows” still retains Ashton’s trademark twang, a theme that’s prevalent throughout the record.

Another standout Ashton Shepherd and Bobby Pinson co-write is “More Cows Than People,” a song that recalls something from the second or third Sugarland albums. In other words, there are hooks galore and it just sounds downright fun. With the opening fiddle fills and the telecaster guitar licks, “Beer On A Boat” doesn’t sound quite like the other Peach Picker-penned songs but it still is damn catchy and it has me wondering how their string of hits too long to list would sound like if they were produced in a similar manner.  If I were to compare Ashton Shepherd to anyone, I’d say she’s like a female version of Alan Jackson in her ability to write with top shelf writers like Pinson,Troy Jones (“People Are Crazy”) or Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark (th“Somewhere With You”), she’s still a fantastic solo songwriter and that is proved on the stately “I’m Just A Woman” and the nostalgic yet not stuck in the past “Rory’s Radio.” “I’m Just A Woman” falls well within the bounds of a classic Loretta Lynn song and that’s about as high praise as a female singer/songwriter can get. 

Ashton Shepherd may be a tough sell to newer fans who are more accustomed to the pop/country of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift or Sugarland but if they took the time to give Ashton Shepherd’s album a shot, they’ll find one of the most genuine and least clichéd singer/songwriter making songs for and about country people.

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