"I had a basic plan for this record," Ashton says. "You've got your first record behind you; you've learned some things. Your sophomore record -- I heard from all these people -- is supposed to be different. It's supposed to be another factor and define you a little more. I'm thinking, 'How am I going to do this?'"
To answer that question, Ashton enlisted the help of Nashville songwriters Dean Dillon, Dale Dodson, Bobby Pinson and Troy Jones. "I was a little scared of it, since I'd never co-written before," she explains. "Once I started, I really, really enjoyed it. I felt like we had plenty of songs to choose from. So the angle on this record was trying to define Ashton Shepherd in a different way, maybe dig just a little bit deeper and try and put some different kinds of songs on it."
In her opinion, it worked. "I was listening back to the record, thinking, 'This has something for everybody on it.' I think we've accomplished that," she continues.
As a result, the new spin on songwriting has even affected the Alabama native's live shows. "This record is more tempo-heavy. The first record was very country with all the ballads," she explains. "It made it hard to do live shows, because you had 11 songs and six of them were ballads. Now, we've got a good little handful of spunky songs that I think people will really like to sing along with and enjoy on this record."
The singer-songwriter wrote or co-wrote eight of the 10 tunes on the project, which was produced by Buddy Cannon. Two of her solo cuts include 'I'm Just a Woman' and 'Rory's Radio,' which is a very personal song.
"I wrote it about my brother Jeff's best friend growing up, Rory Dunigan," Ashton told The Boot. "I dedicated my first record to my brother, who was killed in a car accident in 1999. I didn't have any songs on the album about him, but I did dedicate the record to him. Rory and Jeff were almost the same person, that's how close they were. This song reflects back on us riding and listening to Rory's radio growing up, and remembering my brother. It's really special to me and that it made the record. I pushed for it. I love it."
If you can't wait for July to hear new music from Ashton, check out her four-song 'Look it Up' EP here.