All I knew about Ashland Craft until about four days ago was that she duetted with HARDY on his “So Close” single, and that she performed “I Smoke Weed” with Brothers Osborne on “Hixtape”.

Then I found “Travelin’ Kind”, which has been out about four months and which got lost in an avalanche of albums from early September.

So here’s what we now know about Ashland Craft. First and foremost, the woman can sing! Good lord. She has a mighty voice. And then, that word, voice. She was on the TV show in the US. And she cites a love of Def Leppard, well she might because whilst this is country, its country with a big rock groove a lot of the time.

Take the opener – the title track – not a million miles of latter-day Skynyrd and there’s a chord before the chorus. It’s one that screams “arena rock”.

Then there’s the words: Craft has, well, crafted some excellent songs here – and its worth noting that she co-writes nine of them – but if we might be so bold as to say it, the title track is the one that’s most “her” as it were.

“I wasn’t made for the settlin’ down

Be somebody’s old lady in some nowhere town

I got a soul like a black crow flyin’ high

I guess I always been the travelin’ kind”

Of course, the “road” is always in these sort of songs, but throughout “…Kind” she always seems to be leaving something. Apart from on “Your Momma Still Does” that is, where she’s been left herself.

A woman in her mid-twenties, there’s a strong independence here. “Leaving You Again” dips its toe in some more country waters, but there’s a raspy wail and there’s a desire.

“Make It Past Georgia” (just the near 7m Spotify plays) is clearly the “single” and there’s something glorious about the way she sings “I hit 80 in a 55”, but when she gets deep in the honky tonk you can see “Last 20 Dollars” as something of an anthem. The line “all my plastic’s maxxed to the limit, buying that piece of shit a one way ticket” is going to hit home with women just about everywhere, I’d bet.

The brilliant Marcus King does a fine turn with the harmonies on the ballad “Highway Like Me” all regrets and Lap Steel, while the mid-paced blue collar (and lust fuelled, we might as well admit it) rocker “Mimosas In The Morning” chugs pleasantly.

The break up song “Day By Day” (one of the pair she didn’t write) is brave in the way it lays its desires out, “to be with a guy who’s last name I don’t remember” is a long way from traditional, and so it suits this perfectly. On the other side of the break up – perhaps – is “Letcha Fly”, while “Come Down” (maybe the flip side to “I Smoke Weed”, who knows)  is a pop song, but its one of massive proportions.

In many ways, its possible to see “Travelin’ Kind” as a kind of concept record, given that it ends – as it started – with a rocker, but if the opener was about leaving, then “That’s The Kinda Place” is why she keeps coming back. Every country star has a song like this, but that doesn’t make this one any less excellent.

Same goes for the record as a whole. “Travelin’ Kind” is as good a debut as you’ll hear. Polished, and by an artist who has seemingly emerged with a total self awareness of what she wanted to be.

Rating 8.5/10