Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ashton Shepherd: Keepin’ It Rural Where Country Grows

Look It Up

 Ashton Shepherd’s much-anticipated second album, Where Country Grows is released today, and is being celebrated with a super-duper deal from Best Buy, where you can buy it for only $7.99.

The Inky Jukebox wanted to check this out, so conducted a survey of her local Best Buys this morning. Not only did they not stock it, they had never heard of it. Huh. So The Inky Jukebox went to her local Target to see if they were trying to compete, and found that they only had one copy (surely the entire stock had not been bought by 10 AM?) for full price, and it was not even on the new releases rack.

The Inky Jukebox was actually rather pleased by this outcome. Why? Because the temptation to buy the actual CD if it had been at either place, on sale, was too great to pass up. Instead, The Inky Jukebox traded in $12.99 worth of her iTunes reserve and bought the Deluxe Edition online. This version contains four extra songs, some of which are the best songs on the album. It’s also available as a Deluxe Edition download on Amazon for $13.98.

Saving several songs for a deluxe download makes a fan feel a bit cheated, if you really want to know. It goes along with the pre-release four-song EP many companies are putting out now; it used to be that if you bought a single or the EP, then you would not be charged for those tracks when you eventually bought the album they appear on; not no more. Now, if you buy the actual CD (always nice for the higher quality sound), you have to fork over $3.96 more for those online-only tracks. If The Inky Jukebox had indeed found it for $7.99 at Best Buy, that would have worked out at $11.95 (not including tax and gas money). Remember when CDs cost $19.99 and everyone complained? Well, it's inching back up there, y'all. 

Bottom Line: It’s better to take a big bite of that apple, y’all.

This only leaves the problem of what to have Ashton sign when The Inky Jukebox finally meets her. Hmmmm.

This record sounds more produced than her first, the sublime Sounds So Good, but that might be an illusion brought on by the three-year wait. If you like your country old-school, you will like this album; it is chock-full of decent up-beat foot-stompers and ballads. But while there are plenty of great songs (standouts include “Where Country Grows,” “While It Ain’t Rainin,’” “Rory’s Radio,” and “What If It Was”) there are no smack-you-upside-the-head jaw-droppers like — well, every single song on Sounds So Good.

Ashton Shepherd is the real deal; the girl can sing her ass off and gives it her all on each track. By all means, go out and buy Where Country Grows; The Inky Jukebox suspects it will grow on you. But don’t forget to pop Sounds So Good in your cart as well. 

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