Album Review: Where Country Grows by Ashton Shepherd
Phenomenal, Based on 3 Critics
Rolling Stone - 100 Based on rating 5/5
Ashton Shepherd is 24 years old, but she doesn't sing like it. She has one of those lived-in country voices: hard and bright, weary but hopeful, perfect for her wise, witty, tough-minded songs. Her debut, Sounds So Good, was one of the best country releases of 2008. Where Country Grows is even better - full of kiss-offs ("Look It Up"), celebrations of the sticks ("More Cows Than People") and backwoods-diva ballads like "I'm Just a Woman." She can be as rugged as Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson, and sings better than each.
With her 2008 debut, Sounds So Good, Ashton Shepherd proved to be a little trickier to peg than Miranda Lambert, the fiery singer/songwriter who may be her closest mainstream competition. Shepherd’s music has deeper roots than Lambert’s -- there’s a sense that it extends all the way back to the classic country of the ‘50s -- and she has a dark, smoky undertow to her voice that gives her an unpredictable soulfulness. These are aspects that give Shepherd considerable character but they make her a bit harder to market, which may be why her 2011 sophomore set, Where Country Grows, makes considerable effort to brighten and broaden her sound, to bring in listeners who may not have been seduced by the late-night vibes of Sounds So Good.