On which award-winning artist Shantell Ogden follows up her highly successful previous album, "Ghosts In The Field", with this collection of songs marking also her debut as a producer. And on that score alone, Ogden makes an immediate impression as the album itself is enveloped in a warm, rootsy organic sound that allows each song it's own space without cluttering the mix. This results in an 'almost' live sound, and the sound of a songwriter and her band kicking back and enjoying what they're doing.
Shantell is no stranger to success. Her songs have received airplay on more than 800 Country and Americana radio stations worldwide, reaching Top 2 chart positions in both the U.S and Europe. Her songs have also appeared in CW's TV series "Heart Of Dixie" and in several feature films, and she has also won honours for 'Songwriter Of The Year' and 'Americana Song Of The Year'. So her pedigree is not in doubt, that's for sure.
What she brings to the table on "The Road That Drives Me" is the sound of an artist exploring the various nuances within a genre. Country and Americana can sometimes in the wrong hands become a parody of itself, but here Ogden explores a little further into the crevices of those genres, and in the process creates a more natural roots soundscape infused with just the right amount of blues swing.
Songs about trains, the open road and a love lost and gained are indeed staples in the Country and Americana scenes, and this album specifically addresses those issues, with Shantell very much the strong woman and the one calling all the shots. However, the songs never descend into cliche and that's a great credit to Ogden as a songstress. "Truth About Trains" chugs along on the tracks of a strident guitar sound, infused with obligatory pedal steel and Shantell's gorgeously rich vocal chords. Lyrically very clever, as men are compared to trains "the truth about trains, is that they come and go. They leave you blue. That's the truth about trains..and you!".
That theme is prevalent throughout the album, as "About Lovin' Me" proves. "It's more than some words, and the birds and the bees, you've got a lot to learn about lovin' me", she opines, whilst getting down and dirty with a raw blues feel and some great blues licks punctuating a slow burner of a tune.
And in all of this, there are just some good old fashioned songs that will have you singing along, tapping a toe and smiling at an acerbic or bang-on-the-money lyric. "The Road That Drives Me" and "Devil Comes Knockin" provide more of the same country-inflected blues feel that typifies this release as a whole. And it's a sound that feels comfortable, and a little raw without being too 'in-your-face'.
Fans of Country and Americana in general will love this release. It's the sound of an artist stretching out a little and pushing her own musical boundaries without going too far the other way and alienating her fans. And let's face it, we can never get enough of songs about trains and the open road can we?!
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