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Album review: Ashton Shepherd's 'Where Country Grows'

July 11, 2011 |  6:00 pm

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On her 2008 major label debut album, “Sounds So Good,” Ashton Shepherd did just that: She’s a first-class singer who comes off like a female John Anderson, deftly sculpting words and phrases like a seasoned master even though she was just 21. The problem then was that the songs she chose — or was handed — gave those tremendous chops of hers precious little content to work with.

Things are slightly better on her sophomore album, “Where Country Grows,” and she’s both engaging and intimidating on the sassy kiss-off that opens the album, “Look It Up.” “I’m Good” makes a strong follow-up, one of eight songs she wrote or co-wrote, this one the portrait of a woman rebuilding her life, and her esteem, after a heartbreak.

Most of the rest is competent but undistinguished contemporary country that wears its rural aspirations on its sleeve, particularly on the title track, and “More Cows Than People.” She’s clearly capable of belting a worthy song out of the park, but once again she’s hampered by bloop singles and the infrequent double.

Ashton Shepherd
“Where Country Grows”
MCA Nashville
Two stars (Out of four)

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— Randy Lewis

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