Ashland Craft could have written “Trainwreck” in her sleep.
The spitfire from South Carolina with country soul dripping from her veins could have easily conjured up the sass and the grit and the guts to write her latest release, a song that focuses in on a girl who knows darn well that she’s not good for anyone at the moment.
But she didn’t write it.
But damn, she wishes she did.
“I was 22 years old when I first heard it, and all I can remember is my jaw literally hitting the floor,” Craft tells American Songwriter of the song that was actually written by Randy Montana and Channing Wilson. “I was mesmerized by the song from the very first listen.”
The only problem was that the song wasn’t hers.
Wilson was keeping it safely in his back pocket, and he wasn’t quite ready to give it away to a country newbie fresh off a stint on The Voice. But day after day and month after month, Craft would text him, asking about the song that continued to haunt her, in the very best of ways. And on her 23rd birthday, she finally got the text that said the song was hers.
But she had to truly had to make it hers.
“As a musician and a songwriter, I would never want to do anything that didn’t work with the song,” the now 24-year-old recalls of “Trainwreck”, which serves as Craft’s first release since being signed to Big Loud Records. “I mean, Randy (Montana) even released it a while back and it was a bit more upbeat, but I really wanted to make it my own. My goal was to take the different interpretations of the song and then put my own touches on it.”
And that’s what she did.
“All of this has been a learning process,” says Craft, whose version of “Trainwreck” was produced by Jonathan Singleton and coincidentally features Wilson on background vocals. “Songwriting is not as easy as I thought it was.”
“I was never interested into the songwriting world,” says Craft, who has already toured with the likes of Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, Koe Wetzel, and Riley Green before the pandemic turned everyone’s touring plans to mush. “But now, the more I get into it, the more I’m interested to see how this process works.”
But as the pandemic continues to rage on, she says she’s been struggling when it comes to songwriting.
“I don’t want to sound like a hippie or anything,” she says, laughing as the mere mention of the word and the images it conjures up. “But I truly believe that I am one of those people who have to be able to draw off people’s energy works for the song to work.”
So let us guess – you hate Zoom.
“I mean, hate is a strong word but yeah I hate it,” she growls, her gravelly voice and attitude conjuring up memories of a young and spunky Miranda Lambert or a down and dirty Gretchen Wilson. “I just find that writing over Zoom makes me nervous and takes the human element out of the room. I maybe wrote one song over the quarantine. I hate technology.”
But, she’s ready to get back out there.
“I mean, all of this has definitely jogged my creative mind, because before this, I felt like I was stuck in a songwriting rut,” says Craft, whose “Six String Sessions” on YouTube have been garnering much attention as of late. “Before, I felt like I was just writing the same stuff over and over again. The break definitely allowed me to approach things differently.”
And now, Craft says she has a backup of song titles she is eager to dive into, because maybe, it will make her feel better in a world whose future is enough to topple even the strongest out there. “I want to make my songwriting my therapy,” she says in her quietest of tones. “I tend to not have a filter when I’m writing because I always want to be honest, and I think this is as good of time as any to be completely honest.”