Ashland Craft Shows All Her Sides on Debut Album Travelin' Kind: 'None of Us Are One-Dimensional'
Ashland Craft is an old soul with an intriguing sound who finds comfort in chains draped around her neck and vintage rings adorning her polished fingers, a vagabond of sorts who has long found inspiration in the miles of the roads she has traveled.
But last year, as the pandemic shut the world down around her, Craft found newfound creativity in the comforts of home — a home she happens to share with fellow country music spitfires Lainey Wilson and Kasey Tyndall.
"I would wake up and just see them grinding out there and working their butts off to make stuff happen," Craft, 25, tells PEOPLE. "Honestly, getting to live with two girls that have experienced all of this before I did was incredible. It's nice to be able to go to them and be able to vent and talk to them about stuff, and they can put things in perspective when I can't necessarily see it. They inspire me."
And it's that inspiration she brought into the making of her debut album Travelin' Kind, a kaleidoscope of sounds that sonically pulls listeners in, giving them a clear look at the person Craft is and the artist she wants to be.
"This record — well, everything just felt so right, and everything felt so in place," she says of the 11-track achievement of an album, nine of which she co-penned. "I feel like that's when you know you've come into yourself, so to speak."
A South Carolina native who as a little girl lent her voice to any song she could find, Craft certainly shows signs in this debut that she could very well follow in the powerful footsteps of folks like Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson. But more impressive is the fact that at the same time, the country music spitfire seems to be quite confident in carving out her own sound.
From the somewhat autobiographical "That's the Kinda Place" to the understandable "Leavin' You Again" to the somewhat psychedelic "Come Down," which is a sonic U-turn from what some might expect from the girl who found herself getting her first taste of fame courtesy of a Top 10 stint on NBC's The Voice, Craft and her many sides shine.
"None of us are one dimensional," says Craft, who snagged some much-deserved attention with last year's release of songs such as "Two Wildflowers and a Box of Wine." "We all have these pieces and parts to us that make us who we are. When I was writing that song, I just had in mind that you can never forget where you came from. When you get to a point where you think you've lost your head, just come back to your roots and where you came from."
She pauses. "We did not expect to get that song that day," she adds. "But when we did, it was just magical. It was a really cool piece of the puzzle, that's for sure."
Also within that puzzle is Craft's uncanny way of bringing a touch of comedic relief into her craft — hence "Your Momma Still Does."
"It's honestly about having a great relationship with your ex's mom," says Craft with a laugh. "Fortunately, I feel like I have always had a great relationship with the parents of any guy I dated. I felt like that was a cool angle to spin the song in a little more humorous, positive way without being super negative about leaving someone. You may not think about me anymore, but your momma does!"
She laughs again, and then breathes deep.
"It's these kinds of songs that got me through last year," Craft — currently on the road with the Zac Brown Band — says quietly. "They were the 'why' at the end of the tunnel. Just having the music to focus on and trying to deliver that in the best way possible hopefully will now give some lighthearted relief, considering the past year that we've all had."
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