Every once in while you come across a new artist that intrigues from the first listen. Kassi Ashton was one of those artists for me with her lead single “California, Missouri.” Jointly released through MCA Nashville and Interscope Records (you don’t see this too often), Ashton is a new artist just breaking onto the scene. One of her inspirations for her music is Chris Stapleton, who proved to her that she didn’t need to follow the set formula. It’s pretty clear in “California, Missouri,” a song with obvious soul, rock and pop influences. It’s a downtrodden song, but also has a tinge of light. The song is about Ashton’s hometown of California, Missouri, your average small town where dreaming big and standing out from the crowd is frowned upon. She expresses her disdain for growing up here, but at the same time can’t shake that small town pride as she pursues her dreams. It’s a conflicting of emotions that people from small towns all know too well. I enjoy the word play Ashton makes with the hook of the song, as it’s showcasing the duality of emotions and where she wants to be versus where she comes from. Ashton also brings a more pop-like delivery with her vocals, more soulful and powerful than your average country artist. It’s this juxtaposition of small town themes and variety of genres that makes “California, Missouri” and Kassi Ashton one of the most interesting new artists to keep an eye on in 2018.
Grade: Solid Mix of Styles & Commentary on Small Town Living
Songwriters: Kassi Ashton, Shane McAnally, Luke Laird