Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ashton Shepherd: Sounds So Good


Ashton Shepherd is a 21 year old wife and mother from Alabama who released her debut country CD last March. I saw a lot of positive online commentary concerning her CD, with frequent comparisons to giants of the genre like Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams. I've been resisting buying it, because it seems more and more that such hype is empty, and spending my money based on it is only a waste.

While we were on vacation last week, we hit the Wally World in my folks' hometown, and I saw the CD there for under $10. I decided the price was low enough and threw it in the shopping cart.

I am very glad I did. The production on the CD is clean and has much more of a traditional country sound that most current Nashville "product". And, where the typical new female vocalist in country is a willowy blond with a quavery high pitched voice who has had moderate success in some other area of show business and has "always wanted to sing country", Shepherd really has been singing country music as long as she can remember. Writing it too.

She has a very twangy voice, singing in a lower register, with an assurance and emotional maturity that belongs to a much older soul. I think mid-1990s Patty Loveless is a very apt comparison. And, by the way, Ashton Shepherd is a willowy brunette :)

To my ears, Sounds So Good is the finest country debut of the last decade. If I were to use a single word to describe the CD, I think it would be...astonishing.

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