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CD Review: Ashton Shepherd

Where Country Grows (MCA Nashville)

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Ashton Shepherd is 24 years old, lives in Alabama, and sounds like she'd kick your ass for looking at her the wrong way. She's a rugged country girl, and on her second album she lets you know she ain't taking crap from anybody, even on the ballads. Like Miranda Lambert, Shepherd has a deep drawl and a bullshit detector set to 11. Following her strong 2008 debut, Sounds So Good, Where Country Grows picks up the pieces of a broken relationship and moves on. "The word is 'faithful,' look it up," she sings on the opening "Look It Up." "The word is 'over,' look it up." Shepherd lets down her guard occasionally: The I'm-movin'-on declaration of "I'm Good" barely hides her heartbreak, and the catchy "Rory's Radio" is a nostalgic look back at simpler times. But this is mostly tough twang, in a voice made for wide-open spaces. — Gallucci

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