Shelley Skidmore - 'Shelley Skidmore'

Kentucky native singer-songwriter Shelley Skidmore released her debut self-titled EP on February 8th. With an intriguing mix of song-writers, the five tracks highlight Shelley's bluegrass influences alongside guest vocal appearances from Greg Bates in What You Need From Me and Brandy Clark, Deana Carter, Kathy Mattea and Matraca Berg in Back In The Saddle

Out of the two tracks with featured artists I would have to say What You Need From Me comes across as the strongest. Back In The Saddle has a happier overall feeling but it does feel a little throwaway at points and the combination of vocal tones from Greg and Shelley in What You Need From Me works so well. Sung as a true duet and opening with Greg's deep tone, the track is very touching and is certainly a good choice for Shelley to have included on her EP due to the extra dynamic a male vocal adds. The instrumentalisation is also strong enough to keep the track from feeling dull but not overpowering in a way that way that would take the shine off the heartfelt vocals.

The Brandy Clark/Troy Verges written Pawn Shop is definitely the stand out track on this release. Shelley really makes the track her own and delivers a delicate, heartfelt vocal that makes you as a listener feel like she is singing about personal experiences. Whilst the lyrics behind Pawn Shop are intrinsically very sad, the track also holds a sense of closure which is very successful and makes for a very appealing overall listen. Without a doubt Pawn Shop showcases Shelley at her strongest, her vocal makes you sit up and take notice and the production is pitched at a level that is a perfect accompaniment to that. A track you want to soak up and listen to again and again.

EP opener White Picket Fences is the only co-write we see from Shelley on this EP. Holding the most obviously bluegrass instrumentalisation you can't help but tap your feet along to the infectious rhythm of the track. With a 'small town' feel behind the lyrics I would definitely advise you listen closely, Shelly and co-writers Brandy Clark and Jessie Jo Dillon have done a great job with creating the overall story here.

Track listing....
1) White Picket Fences - Shelley Skidmore, Brandy Clark, Jessie Jo Dillon
2) Pawn Shop - Brandy Clark, Troy Verges
3) Makin' Babies - Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Matt Jenkins
4) What You Need From Me  - Jon Randall, Jessi Alexander, Phillip White
5) Back In The Saddle - Matraca Berg, Stan Lynch

I was recently able to catch up with Shelley and ask her some questions...

What first drew you to country music?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with country music!  I grew up hearing everything from Eddie Arnold to Merle Haggard to Reba McEntire.  I think the stories and honesty in country music are what I’ve always loved the most.
Your EP has quite a traditional country orientated sound, what prompted that?
Nothing makes me happier than the sound of a fiddle and steel guitar.  When we went in to the studio to record this EP, I knew that was absolutely something I wanted…a traditional country sound.  I’m a fan of all kinds of different music, but for me, creating and performing traditional country music is what makes me happiest.  
Which is your favourite song on the EP?
It’s hard to pick my favourite because they all mean something to me.  I think I resonate most with White Picket Fences.  I wrote it with Brandy Clark and Jessie Jo Dillon and the day we wrote it, we were talking about the small towns we grew up in.  Anybody who grew up in a little town can probably relate to this song.  
If you could only listen to one album which would you pick and why?
Gosh!  That’s a hard question.  I think it would probably be a toss up between Lee Ann Womack’s "There’s More Where That Came From" and Patty Loveless’ "When Fallen Angels Fly".  They both get me to this day!  
Who would you describe as your influences?
I think growing up, any little girl wanting to sing country music looked up to Reba McEntire.  I remember watching VHS tapes of Reba performing live over and over again and just being completely captivated by her songs and her stage presence.  I also listened to a lot of artists like Tammy Wynette, Keith Whitley and George Jones.
Which artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
Merle Haggard.  Hands down.  Sometimes I can listen to his old records and they still nearly bring me to tears!  His voice and his legacy…it would be a dream come true to share the stage with him.  
Which is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a lot of advice since my time in Nashville.  I’ve been really blessed to meet some really amazing people.  I think the best piece of advice I’ve ever received, though, came from my Grandaddy.  He passed away when I was really little but my family always kept this quote of his alive…”Keep on keepin’ on”.  The music business can really knock you down sometimes and that advice has always stayed with me.  I think it’s helped me stay true to who I am and what I believe in…and it’s always reminded me to never give up.  
Can we expect to see you touring the UK any time soon?
I hope so!  I’m going on tour this spring with Steve Moakler here in the states but I would absolutely love to come to the UK soon!
Thank you to Shelley for her time! This EP is definitely strong and is a promising start for Shelley. Whilst Makin' Babies and Back In The Saddle feel a little throwaway at points and lack the draw of the other tracks they are still okay tracks and show a gutsier side to Shelley. She does, however, deliver some really great moments here and the overall EP promises an exciting full length album in the future! Definitely an impressive EP to check out from a very talented artist.