An Introduction to Ashland Craft And Her Debut Album “Travelin’ Kind”

Having released a string of singles in recent years including her major label debuts, the soulful “Trainwreck” and southern-rock infused “Two Wildflowers And A Box Of Wine“, Ashland Craft has already proven herself to be a vocalist and songwriter to reckon with. A seasoned performer, too, she discovered her honky-tonk spirit while cutting her teeth at a hometown bar in Piedmont, South Carolina singing Country and Rock covers. Back in 2017 she came in the top 10 of NBC ‘s The Voice, and she is among CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2021 as well as making numerous prestigious Artists To Watch lists. Having opened tours for major artists including Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen, Ashland is currently out on the road with the Zac Brown Band.
With her influences including Def Leppard, Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt, The Chicks and John Mayer, if you like your country music on the rock/ blues side then Ashland is someone whose music you definitely need to know, and with her debut album “Travelin’ Kind” out this Friday, September 3rd via Big Loud you have a great opportunity to make her acquaintance so to speak. Produced by Jonathan Singleton, the eleven track release (Ashland co-writing on nine alongside some of her closest friends and rising talents as well as many names you’ll no doubt recognise ) represents her one-way ticket to Nashville where she relocated in 2019, and some of you may have heard UK’s Bob Harris singing her praises when he gave the album’s lead track “Make It Past Georgia” a play on his BBC R2 show last week. One of the slower, more reflective songs on the collection, it sees Ashland relating the slew of relationships she had no issues with leaving behind as she journeyed through the States… albeit until she hooked up with a certain person in Georgia, who still plays on her mind despite her having moved on geographically. It’s a great example of how she can vocally explode from seemingly nowhere, as she does in the song’s chorus, and also how much emotion she can convey with her distinctive gritty and powerful voice. The accompaniment is representative of what to expect on the album too… recorded without tracking or any “extras” in old-school style there’s really impressive and exciting drums and lead guitars together with no shortage of fabulous fiddle and steel.

The album kicks off with the punchy title track, a perfect way to introduce what is to come and what Ashland is all about as she explains her love of the open road and aversion to staying in one place. Her passion for pursuing her love of music is her driving force…”I wasn’t made for the settling down in a white picket fence, water tank town” she tells us, “who gives a damn about a next one and only when you got some songs and a rocking’ little band“. I love how the harmonica features strongly in the mix on this one, just one example of the varied arrangements throughout. Further down the track listing comes another ode to life on the road , this time in the form of a beautiful ballad and the only vocal collaboration on the album “Highway Like Me (feat Marcus King)” . She explains to her latest lover how the lure of the open road means she has to leave…”white lines and gasoline, and little towns I’ve never seen are the reasons I can’t stay long“. It’s so clever how she likens having a relationship with her to the highway that calls… lots of unknown twists and turns, but also “one helluva ride“. The singers’ voices blend beautifully, this really is a fabulous song in every respect which has really grown on me more with every listen.
Her strong, independent spirit comes through on several of the other tracks too, never more so than on one of my favourites “Last 20 Dollars” which is stylistically in sharp contrast to the track I’ve just mentioned. This really fun honky tonk song sees Ashland celebrating her new found freedom by blowing her final cash on a double shot of top shelf booze having kicked her ex into touch . “All my plastic’s maxed to the limit buying that piece of shit a one way ticket, so here’s to the letting go’s and going broke“. Such an infectious song which I can guarantee will get your toes tapping , and I particularly love the rock’n’roll piano screaming out in the mix.
In fact leaving is a recurrent theme throughout the album helping tie it together very well, whether it involves moving on from people and places or being the one left behind. But having a free spirited nature doesn’t mean you doesn’t look back at what is behind you . “Your Momma Still Does“, another of the tracks made available pre-album release and one of its two outside cuts, is a gutsy, rootsy number with bluegrass vibes in the introduction addressed to an ex who Ashland thought could possibly be the one to tame her wanderlust . But he seemingly has forgotten about her and in fact it’s his mother who stays in touch, calling her “’bout twice a week after one of her five o’clock drinks“. What a great twist to a breakup song. I love the contrasting emotions she manages to convey, hurt in the wistful verses turning to anger in the vitriolic choruses. And the album closer “That’s The Kinda Place” is a nostalgic tribute to Ashland’s small, quiet hometown (population 5,411 at the 2020 census, thank you wikipedia!) where “You’re either sitting round waiting for Jesus or the County Fair“. “I remember being 18 and ready to take off to see everything the world had to offer,” Craft recalls. “But I never knew how much I’d miss home after I actually left. We always made the best of any situation growing up, and I believe my small town made the girl you see today. I’ll always be proud of that!” It’s the latest track to be made available as part of her “Rockin’ Lil’ Band Sessions” which sees Ashland on stage with her fantastic full band band and making me even more excited at the prospect of catching her live sometime.

This is just a brief overview mentioning a few of the tracks aimed at giving you a taste of this stunning album which in my opinion has cemented Ashland’s position as one of the most exciting and versatile artists around at the moment. Let’s hope her wanderlust brings her over to this side of the pond before too long!  Download/Stream  “Travelin’ Kind” here
Travelin’ Kind Track Listing/ Writing Credits 

1. “Travelin’ Kind” (Ashland Craft, Erik Dylan)
2. “Your Momma Still Does” (Jenna LaMaster, Jonathan Singleton)
3. “Leavin’ You Again” (Ashland Craft, Jenna LaMaster, Faren Rachels)
4. “Make It Past Georgia” (Ashland Craft, Reid Isbell, Willie Morrison)
5. “Last 20 Dollars” (Ashland Craft, Wyatt Beasley Durrette, III, Jonathan Singleton)
6. “Highway Like Me (feat. Marcus King)” (Ashland Craft, Jessi Alexander, Reid Isbell)
7. “Mimosas In The Morning” (Ashland Craft, Jessie Jo Dillon, Jonathan Singleton)
8. “Day By Day” (Tori Allen, Corey Grogan)
9. “Letcha Fly” (Ashland Craft, Willie Morrison, Lee Starr)
10. “Come Down” (Ashland Craft, Adam Hood, Rob Snyder)
11. “That’s The Kinda Place” (Ashland Craft, Rodney Clawson, Jonathan Singleton)

(Produced by Jonathan Singleton)

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Article written by Lesley Hastings (
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