Where Country Grows comes after her 2008 debut, Sounds So Good, and attempts to capture her songwriting and singing evolution she’s made over the last few years. She has written or co-written 8 of the 10 songs on the new album, which was produced by Buddy Cannon.
“I felt like I had a basic plan for this record,” she says. “You’ve got your first record behind you; you’ve learned some things. Your sophomore record – I heard from all these people – is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to be another factor and define you a little more. I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to do this?’”One new approach was to spend time with several of Nashville’s prominent songwriters, including Dean Dillon, Dale Dodson, Bobby Pinson and Troy Jones, to see if these collaborations could inspire new sounds or themes.
“I was just a little scared of it, since I’d never co-written before,” says Ashton. “Once I started, I really, really enjoyed it. I felt like we had plenty of songs to choose from. So the angle on this record was trying to define Ashton Shepherd in a different way, maybe dig just a little bit deeper and try and put some different kinds of songs on it.
“I was listening back to the record, thinking, ‘This has something for everybody on it.’ I think we’ve accomplished that,” says Ashton, who wrote by herself two of the album’s most powerful songs – “I’m Just a Woman” and “Rory’s Radio.”
“This record is more tempo-heavy. The first record was very country with all the ballads,” she says. “It made it kind of hard to do live shows, because you had 11 songs and six of them were ballads. Now, we’ve got a good little handful of spunky songs that I think people will really like to sing along with and enjoy on this record.”