are albums…and there are albums. Nashville, almost
daily, churns out music, keeping the treadmill on overtime
rates, while keeping the musically insatiable fed. We have
the hats, the hunks, the wannabees, the “next big thing”,
all paraded and exaggerated, often without any real regard
for talent. Get the song drafted to as many radio stations
as possible, get it on CMT, get a story in the paper and
with any luck the runaway publicity train may mold a hit,
better, a star.
But as we know there are albums,
and there are albums. Sometimes a talent with a great debut
slips outside the dragnet of fans and Billboard. Sometimes,
in the cut and push of the publicity for other label
hopefuls, an album comes along, with all the needed “stuff”
but, for all the wrong reasons, it gets lost in the swamp of
releases. It slips from view.
Meet Ashton Shepherd.
Her debut, Sounds So Good (MCA
Nashville), has landed in music stores. And with an album
living up to its title, I’m somewhat amazed it hasn’t
bounced hard into a lot of the smultz on the current charts.
With a unique down home voice, drizzled every so keenly with
an Alabama twang, this young wife (she’s 21) and mother of
one is as country as it gets. Hear the feisty vocals of,
say, Tanya Tucker, Gretchen Wilson or Sugarland’s Jennifer
Nettles, and you’re getting a measure of Ashton Shepherd.
I mean, the girl can sing.
The proof comes across in 11
evenly and vocally charmed tunes. And she can write, having
penned all but four cuts. There is the marital freedom of a
tossed wedding band, as heard on the recent radio single,
“Takin’ Off This Pain”. There is the image of the windows
down and the sound of a cooler slushin' on the truck bed,
all to the sounds of real country music, as heard on “Sounds
So Good”. “The Pickin’ Shed”, with it’s tale of friends and
music meeting on common ground, is something you’d imagine
Shepherd would have lived on the seven acre family farm in
small-town, blink and miss, Leroy, Alabama.
While the album bounces and
jumps with a goodly mix of toe-tapping fare, there is plenty
in the reserve tank to cater for those with a reflective and
somber need. The pain of a lost and movin’ on romance is
catered for on “Regular Joe,” while the piano-led “Old
Memory,” the love soaked “Lost In You” and the joyous lament
of a housewife’s lot in “I Ain’t Dead Yet” all showcase
Shepherd’s soon to be discovered talent.
Noted producer Buddy Cannon has
a lot to be proud of here, on an album that simply grabbed
me from the first play. As mentioned, there are albums, and
there are albums. I’m a fan of this one, won over with both
the voice and the tunes.
Find out the excitement; check
out her web site, her Myspace, and do yourself the biggest
favor – get the album. Then when you have listened, why not
send along a Real People Review (see below) and let us know
what you think.
Until then, it’s all sounding so
good for Ashton Shepherd.