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Prime Cuts: I'm Good, I'm Just a Woman, Look It Up

Shepherd makes songs her confessional booth. Never one to be restrained to express her disgruntle with the darker side relationships, Shepherd has articulated them poetically as well as realistically through her smoky low key balladry on her debut disc "Sounds So Good." Though the CD received rave reviews from critics, it only generated one top 20 hit "Taking Off this Pain." For album number 2, Shepherd has wizened up by encompassing a broad scope of songs, such that not every track reeks with heartbreak eased only by the numbness of alcohol. Rather, the plethora of subject has broadened to encompass life's more blissful moments, including a couple of silly summer fun tunes, and a couple of tunes dealing with life in general. Even when she sings about the duds in her life, she no longer bodies herself in her victim mentality. Rather, she bites back with fiery cynicism an tongue-in-cheek comeback lines. Thus, "Where Country Grows" is relatively more mature and more balanced. Thanks are given to a larger pool of co-writers sharing ink with the songstress including current hit writers Rhett Akins, Marv Green, Robert Ellis Orrall, Bobby Pinson, Dean Dillon and Ben Haylsip.

Following in the footsteps of Miranda Lambert, Shepherd takes a stance for strong, tough and feisty woman on lead single "Look It Up." Where kiss-off songs abound in country music, "Look It Up" is a standout. A sassy moderate uptempo kicker, Shepherd not only shows her cheating paramour the door but adds stinging insults to his intelligence in the process. Most hilarious is the line: "The word is easy, look it up/And you'll see a picture of that piece of trash/Ridin' 'round in your pickup truck." Dean Dillon, Dale Dodson and Ashton Shepherd's "I'm Good" is a great prequel as Shepherd assures her ex that she will not fall apart at their romantic demise. But Ashton is not one who always dons the tough chic masquerade she does confesses her vulnerability on the moving ballad "I'm Just a Woman." A sensitive plea to her man for more understanding as she details her struggles to balance life, romance and family as a woman "I'm Just a Woman" ought to be a song played during marriage therapeutic classes.

Breaking away from the molasses of relationships, Shepherd celebrates the values of rural living with the title cut "Where Country Grows." With vivid vignettes of gratuitous mentions of honeysuckle and a young boy opening the door for an old lady, Shepherd charms us with the values of the South on the midtempo "Where Country Grows." More nostalgic moments are found on the album's closer "Rory's Radio" where Shepherd brings us into scenes of her diary while growing up and how the songs on the radio had helped her on critical junctures. "Trying to Go to Church," a Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Shepherd composition is an average barn burner where Shepherd confesses her struggles to live a morally spotless life. Shepherd goes bluesy on the misfired "That All Leads to One Thing" and "More Cows than People" sounds too much thematically to the title cut.

Giving her penchant for melancholy and morose a back seat, Shepherd actually leaves tearsville for a fun boat ride on the beach on the rowdy "Beer on a Boat." With strong fiddled intro that calls to Alan Jackson's "Summertime Blues," "Beer on a Boat" sounds like a radio wave lighter. Though not perfect, "Where Country Grows" shows depth for Shepherd as an artist and it is good to see her taking steps to broaden her portfolio. Relative to her debut, this is a much more solid,, matured and ultimately more satisfying effort.
22 comments12 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 13, 2011
Reviewers love to overuse the phrase "real country music"; but this artist truly does make real country music. This is a fantastic album . . . especially if you love to listen to country music, but don't like what's on the radio. Need more artists of her caliber STAT!
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on August 14, 2011
I bought the cd because of "Look It Up" which they stopped playing on radio WAY TOO EARLY! However, almost every song on the cd is worth the buy. Listen to it the first time and review may be just above lukewarm but the more I listen, the more I WANNA listen!
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on August 12, 2011
This is truly the greatest CD to come out of Nashville by a female artist in the last 20 years. This is one lady who knows how to sing country music. THANK GOD FOR ASHTON SHEPHERD, there is Hope for Nashville after all, will be a fan of this artist for life 5 STARS.
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on August 8, 2011
I enjoyed this album, Ashton Shepard's second.
"Look It Up" is my favorite, and I like her
attitude. I also like that she is a down-home girl
and very modest about her success.
She wrote all the songs, and she is a super talent!
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on August 7, 2011
My husband and I have anxiously awaited the release of Ashton's new album. We were not disappointed. We can feel ourselves in her songs. It is as if she is singing about our lives or someone close to us. She is as real as anyone claiming to be country can be. I don't know how anyone who hears her sing can not like her. We purchased 10 of her newest cd and passed them out to friends and family. We want everyone to have the chance to hear her, and we know they will fall in love with her voice and personality just as we did. We can't wait for the 3rd album.
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on August 6, 2011
Man, can this girl sing and she picks and WRITES great songs--I thoroughly enjoyed her last CD, Sounds So Good, and am really loving this new one as well. Every song is good but I really like the ones that showcase her vocal talent--"One Summer Gone" is an excellent track, reminds me of "Whiskey Won the Battle" from the last CD. Buy this CD--you will not be disappointed and you'll be supporting a voice and an artist, not some crossover pop BS coming blankly out of a dead-eyed "star".
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on November 8, 2012
She has a amazing voice and the true country style .....just hope to see she stays around and gets some kinda recognition for her sing abilitys she just awesome.
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on July 20, 2011
I just received my Ashton Shepherd CD the other day from Amazon and have been listening to it non stop. I thought her debut "Sounds so Good" was awesome and then she blows it away with the follow up. Every song on here is just pure down home country. It is a shame that the radio does'nt play more of her music. I think my favorite so far is Beer on a Boat, Rory's Radio, and Where Country Grows. Of course all the songs are great and All in all its a fantastic album to hop in the car roll the windows down and crank it up. Definetly pick up the deluxe version, you wont be disappointed.
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on July 23, 2011
I just downloaded the version with the extra songs and very glad I did. I might be too much of a fan but just about every song on this sophomore set brings back so many memories I have experienced in my own life I could listen to it over and over.
I haven't listened to a lot of country lately as I am kind of from the old school but the song 'Keepin' It Rural' could be a great radio hit. Enjoy this terrific album.
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