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World Cafe Nashville: Ashley Campbell

Ashley Campbell.
Ashley Campbell.

Ashley Campbell's singing voice is sweet and a little sly, suggesting that she knows a listener might underestimate her and she's about to prove them foolish. There's no reason to low-ball the potential of a woman who has perfected the arts of both banjo picking and improv comedy, but Campbell is a young woman and the daughter of a famous man — two facts that, for artists, can lead to surface judgments.

The late Glen Campbell's youngest child did apprentice in her father's band after leaving what she thought would be an acting career in Los Angeles. But her songs shine on their own with no need to borrow her father's famous rhinestone sparkle. Campbell's debut album The Lonely One, out now, is a wry consideration of the twenty-something years from the wiser, happier perspective Campbell's  achieved at 31. The music blends her beloved bluegrass with contemporary flourishes, from pop elements that recall contemporaries like Kacey Musgraves to an occasional Latin rhythm. Campbell's musical eclecticism comes from touring with her dad in his final years and from the mentorship of his longtime bandmate, Carl Jackson, who joins Campbell in this session.

In a year when women are indisputably making the best albums in country, Ashley Campbell deserves a spot at the top. She spoke with me at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville. Hear it all in the player.

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