Ashton Shepherd on getting rowdy, feeling ‘Seventeen Again’ & finding balance: Exclusive

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In the face of pop-country, Ashton Shepherd remains stalwart in her traditional-leanings, blazing her own path on This Is America. With 10 perfectly thoughtful tracks, the album is one of the finest solo female releases in recent years, and the singer-songwriter couldn't be happier. One of the standout tunes is her current single "Seventeen Again," a mature perspective on what it means to be grown.

"I’m 27. I have two children, and I’ve been married since I was 18 years old. I find myself thinking, ‘who made these rules I live by?’" Shepherd shares in an exclusive interview with NashvilleGab, noting one of the poignant lyrics ["Guess I'm stressed in life, says the bags under my eyes"].

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25 Best Albums of 2013

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Country music absolutely thrived this year, and that doesn't include what the mainstream regurgitated out to the masses. No, there will be no Bro-Country records in this "Best Of" piece. In fact, what many of this list's artists are doing is what the mainstream should be doing. When it comes to remarkable storytellers and vocalists, you have to look a lot further than corporate-held radio to get a firm grip on compelling stories of love, loss, heartache and even happiness.

While I enjoy plenty of what the mainstream has to offer, I find myself peering deeper within the genre's roots to fulfill my musical appetite. You probably won't recognize most of the names on this list, but I assure you, this collection has truly moved me (sometimes, to tears) over the past 12 months. I strongly urge you to take a listen, if you haven't already.

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