Friday, April 11, 2008

Sounds So Good - Ashton Shepherd

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It's easy to be cynical about yet another photogenic young female releasing her debut country album; it only takes a cursory glance at the CD booklet to change your mind however as, with a little help from her brother-in-law, Shepherd has written 10 of the 11 tracks here. This is not your typical Nashville affair where a label gets in a pretty face to record ready-written tracks.

And if this immediately sets Shepherd apart from the pack, its not long before other things have the same effect. Her voice is warm and one of the best of any of the recent newcomers and although occasionally her lyrics (some of which were written when she was just 15) are a little simple and childish, the majority of it is startlingly good.

Whether it be the radio friendly Sounds So Good and The Bigger The Heart or the channelling of Loretta Lynn on I Ain't Dead Yet and Whiskey Won The Battle, Shepherd proves equally adept. Smart enough to know to ensure radio-play on the notoriously fickle Country radio, Shepherd never lets that become the over-riding point of the album and manages the trick of mixing the commercially friendly with the genuinely compelling.

An outstanding debut album.

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