Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Ashton Shepherd's traditional approach to country music garnered her three top 25 songs from her two MCA albums, but now she's out on her own. She is not the singer that Music City would not know what to do with. Shepherd hasn't changed all that much as she hews to a traditional country bent with her twangy, Southern drawl singing and instrumentation.
Shepherd has no one but herself to "blame" as she wrote nine of the 10 songs (one assumes that she also penned the hidden 11th track about the birth of her baby daughter). The Alabama native delivers with a lot of twang, something in precious little demand today, given the continuing mainstreaming of country. In fact, Shepherd seems to have landed from a totally different era. Shepherd holds notes, breaking single syllable words into several for special emphasis (Andy, Let Me Love Your Pain Away).
Shepherd covers Golden Ring, dedicated to the memory of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Daryle Singletary, a perfect choice given his traditional country history and timbre-filled voice, is the partner for Shepherd as they do the song much justice.
Shepherd ventures into proud patriotism on the title track, which is more forceful lyrically than vocally. The song doesn't shed any new ground on the subject matter and comes off as being more of a concert flag waiving song than exuding much depth.
Like the singing, the instrumentation is dyed-in-the-wool country with lots of pedal steel, steady time keeping, fiddle and subdued guitar playing, which does not rock - a good thing.
Shepherd deserves a lot of credit for deciding to blazing her own trail and being beholden to no one else. As she said in the linter notes - she was allowed "to make my choices!" In some respects, she probably had little choice, but to satisfy her own musical musings . And for that, we should be grateful.