Recommendation XXVI: Ashton Shepherd

Here I am, posting late again near midnight lol.  I’m really a night person and it doesn’t help that I don’t have to get to work until about 11am (just gives me more of a reason to stay up later!).  I’m very happy to see that a good amount of people visit the blog and come back regularly (probably has to do with the fact that I now blog more often than the past – gives you all something to look forward to with each visit).  I know how that is with blogs, checking back everyday to see new content and there’s not – annoying, because what else are you gonna read? haha.  I now try my best to stay dedicated to the blog.  It’s like my new child, and I must make it grow with fresh substances and improve over time, just like a fine wine (oddly worded, but you get the idea).  Anyway…

My twenty-sixth recommendation is: Ashton Shepherd’s “The Whiskey Won the Battle” from her 2008 Sounds So Good album.  I don’t know where to start with Ashton.  I’m pretty sure the first time I heard her music was during my winter break, with her debut single, “Takin’ Off This Pain”.  I thought that song sounded good, but I was not in the mood for tough, redneck-themed girl songs at the time, and her voice was too Gretchen Wilson-like (who I love too, but at the time, it seemed like an imitation).  Eventually my interest in her got the best in me, and I remember reading somewhere online that her album was very traditional, that she wrote or co-wrote most of her work, and that she had some songs posted on her myspace page to showcase it.  So, of course, I checked them out and first heard the title cut, “Sounds So Good” (this being her second and current single at the moment, and also let me make it clear, this was before the album came out in March 2008).  I liked it a lot: very catchy and full of steel and twang.  What really sold me on Ashton Shepherd, though, was her song, “I Ain’t Dead Yet”.  That one is stone-cold country (and you know that’s what I like the most ;) ), and I’ll all about quality country music that’s real, sung by a distinct female voice these days, and even more, if they write it themselves, so I was definitely hooked to Ashton then.  She’s almost 22 years old, married, and has a baby as well!

When I finally got the album (I ordered it online, along with Alan Jackson‘s new one, Good Time) as a present to myself lol, I couldn’t stop listening to it.  No debut album from anybody, except for Lee Ann Womack and Sarah Johns, had I been so mega-impressed by their first work.  Alan Jackson, an artist who is my second most favorite of all time, and his 17-track album didn’t compare to Ashton’s 11-track album, in my eyes, or by my ears it should be (I gotta say: Alan’s new album is good, don’t get me wrong, but the songs kinda blended together for me).  That is saying a lot from a critical fan like me.

Continuing on, the biggest knockout song that I heard on this album of greatness was “The Whiskey Won the Battle”.  From those first slow acoustic guitar picking notes in the intro, and Ashton’s heavy Alabaman accent singing “I had a headache, when I woke up this morning…“, and ending with: “the whiskey won the battle, but your memory won the war“, you know it’s gonna be good stuff.  The entire song is sung in a very traditional country way, and the lyrics don’t get any countrier than this: it’s about her immense heartache (and headache – probably migraine-strong, brought on by her pain and hangover from her whiskey drinkin’) from knowing her past lover is with another girl and holding her tight.  Something he used to do to her, and it’s killing her, in which she reacts with drinking heavily to drown in her suffering (very reminiscent of my Yearwood recommendation some days ago, “Drown Me”, but in a more agonizing way).  It’s ironic because “Whiskey…” is the only song on the album that Ms. Shepherd did not have her hand in on writing: it was her songwriting partner (and good friend from the pickin’ shed), Adam Cunningham.  With her Tammy Wynette-like, misery-soaked voice in this song, you’d believe it really happened to Ashton, because she sings it so well.

The production I’d describe as traditional country with lotssa electric guitar and drums, so one might say, “overproduced”, but I think it’s perfect for the song.  The usage of electric and drums, with the fiddle and steel, contribute with the building up of the chorus’ lyrics of how hurt she is and how powerful it is that the hurt is victorious in those classic whiskey vs. memory wars.  That is why I tagged this post under “contemporary” and “traditional” because it’s like a hybrid.  I was surprised by the incredible producing from Buddy Cannon (because he produces Kenny Chesney music as well, so a real country produced album like Shepherd’s is much different than that, and praise-worthy.  Reminds me of Byron Gallimore and his work with There’s More Where That Came From).  Other things I gotta mention: love the hat-tip to Hank Williams‘s music and how Ashton can make any word into quadruple times the syllables it really has lol.

Other highly rated songs I haven’t mentioned that I’d have to say to check out, even though they’re all great and rank 4 stars to 5 stars on my iTunes ratings, would be the uptempo fiddle-heavy, “The Bigger the Heart” and the slight-pop country slow tune, “Lost In You”.  If you like your country, real, twangy, and filled with steel and fiddle, you MUST get Ashton’s debut album, Sounds So Good.  I really can’t stress that enough.

Thanks for reading!

Buy the song on iTunes now!

Here are the full lyrics to “The Whiskey Won the Battle”, written by Adam Cunningham:

I had a headache, when I woke up this morning
And a picture of you, beside my head
And I drank ’til two
‘Til I fell out on the floor
The whiskey won the battle
But your memory won the war

And I can’t figure out
Just what went wrong
I play it in my head
Like an old Hank Williams song
And I can’t do this
I can’t do this anymore
The whiskey won the battle
But your memory won the war

Oh, and it tears me up
Knowing she’s with you
Oh, and I drink some more
For your memory, I’ve gotta lose

I had a headache, when I woke up this morning
And a picture of you, beside my head
Oh, and I drank ’til two
‘Til I just fell out on the floor
The whiskey won the battle
But your memory won the war

Yeah, the whiskey won the battle
But your memory won the war…



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