Ashton Shepherd writes in a style that is as refreshing and direct as her personality. You won’t hear many “kiss-off” songs with more sass and attitude than “Takin’ Off This Pain.” Her bell-like voice chimes with innocence on the charming rural celebration “Sounds So Good.” She’s a feisty, fun country gal on the loose “I Like Being Single” and “Not Right Now.” “Old Memory That Don’t Remember Me” and “Whiskey Won the Battle” are classic-sounding “weeper” ballads that could have been written a generation ago.
Her moods range from a touching story song like “How Big Are Angel Wings” to a fiery hillbilly rocker like “The Bigger the Heart, the Harder They Fall.” The drenched-in-steel love ballad “Lost in You” contrasts beautifully with her striking, woman-to-woman saga “Regular Joe.”
Her beloved “Pickin’ Shed” is the subject of one particularly friendly ditty, and her powerful housewife lyric “I Ain’t Dead Yet” is another page from her autobiography.
All of these potent tunes are on Sounds So Good, the debut Ashton Shepherd album from MCA Nashville. All of them were written before she turned 21. m the time I was five, six, seven years old.” The words come spilling out of her in a chatty rush. Ashton has an open-hearted candor that is instantly endearing. She speaks exactly like the country girl she has always been. She was born Ashton Delilah Shepherd on August 16, 1986. Her dad, Donnie, worked in a paper mill along the Alabama River. Mom Denise was a housewife and mother to Ashton, her two older brothers and younger sister. Both parents sang, and Denise’s attempts at guitar playing were emulated by both of her sons. But Ashton was even more precocious. As a child, she sang classic country tunes at local fairs, benefit shows and community events. When she was 14, her older brothers urged her to take up the guitar. When she was 15, her parents funded an album recorded at Alabama group member Jeff Cook’s studio in Ft. Payne, Alabama. Her mother took the cover photo.
In June 2006, she entered and won a talent contest in Gilbertown, Alabama. The prize was being the opening act for Lorrie Morgan in concert. A Nashville record producer heard Ashton, asked for a copy of her CD and invited her to come to Nashville to record some of her tunes. She arrived in Music City on August 29, 2006.
Aware that she would need an attorney to deal with the Nashville music business, she telephoned an office she located on the Internet. The woman on the other end of the phone was kind and helpful. She was also connected, since she worked for the legendary producer and guitarist Jerry Kennedy. This led to meeting Jerry’s son Shelby Kennedy, who brought Ashton Shepherd to MCA. Less than a year from the date she arrived in Music City, Sounds So Good was completed with producer Buddy Cannon (Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, etc.). “Everybody has said they’ve never seen anything happen like this,” says the honky-tonk Cinderella. “I can’t wait to meet people and for people to meet me. I hope everybody connects with my music as well as Nashville has. I think they will. I think people will feel the realness in my songs. I’ve always dreamed of this ride I’m about to take. I feel as blessed as I’ve ever felt in my life.”