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Album: Ashton Shepherd, Where Country Grows (MCA Nashville)

There's something immensely gratifying about rockin' country music like this: the songs, the wit, the playing, the production values, the crackle of atmospheric enjoyment which accompanies such certainty of purpose.

But there's also something alarming about the parochialism, the piety, the joyless certainty of Southern righteousness – the determination that what is important is conformity to the local model. Great tunes, decent voice, scary attitude.