Ashley Campbell – The Lonely One

Like famous dad Glen, Ashley Campbell strikes an ideal balance between country music tradition and pop accessibility. Her long-awaited debut album The Lonely One drives this home, pleasing picky old souls without alienating potential new listeners.

That Campbell family openness that once had the mainstream singing along to John Hartford lyrics (“Gentle on My Mind”) allows for more traditional-minded songs like the Carl Jackson instrumental duel “Carl & Ashley’s Breakdown” to coexist with the pop-oriented “We Can’t Be Friends” and the revved-up radio country sound of “How Do You Know.” None of these approaches sound forced or out of place on the album, due in part to Ashley inheriting her dad’s talents as a dynamic song interpreter and musician.

While Dad caught the attention of the country music world as a session musician turned bluegrass picker, Ashley entered her solo career as a banjo player turned family band member – as shown in 2014’s I’ll Be Me, a documentary about Glen’s battle with Alzheimer’s and his final tour. Years after the film exposed Ashley’s talents as a regular Girl Scruggs, she delivers an equally potent first strike as a solo artist.

Country music fans are pretty lucky to have three amazing young talents go from their dads’ backing bands to solo aspirations in a short time span. The others are Willie’s kid Lukas Nelson and Merle’s youngest, Ben Haggard. They also honor their fathers’ music while paving a path that’s accessible to a broad audience.

Hopefully, it’s the beginning of a long career for Ashley, marked by songs like the well-rounded “Better Boyfriend.” That song has it all: the fast-driving feel that’s missing from country radio, more cheeky humor than the average Americana songwriter can muster and lyrics that should be relatable to her peers.

Ashley Campbell
The Lonely One
[Whistle Stop]