Ever heard of Ashley Gearing? Probably not, but she’s a record holder. Way back in 2003, she became the youngest solo artist to enter the Billboard country singles chart, when her debut release “Can You Hear Me When I Talk To You?” rose to #36.
Now 19-years-old (she was eleven in 2003)—and after four singles scattered over the years—the Curb artist is back with “What You Think About Us,” a slick, heavily compressed cut that’s musically close to Kelly Clarkson, but without the funk or fire.
Gearing has a powerful, clear voice, and she’s blessed with outstanding vocal poise and control. Here, however, she sounds like a young woman resigned to a life in the musical trenches, knocking out note after note with precision and efficiency but with little creative flair.
Maybe it’s because the track is so highly over-processed, but Gearing’s presentation sounds patently vanilla. Her execution is nearly perfect, but it sounds like an outstanding demo to me rather than a hit record. The vocal’s tepid, the production is uninspired and the song is more suited to a G-rated Disney teenager than a 19-year-old woman.
In that sense, “What You Think About Us” comes off like a calculated attempt to market Gearing to the Sophomore demographic. She goes along with it, but I don’t get the impression that she really cares about this song.
Really, though, can you blame her? There’s a host of girls younger than her singing more mature material, and aside from that, the song’s a bore. But, after nearly a decade of disappointing chart results, wouldn’t you go along with whatever the marketing department says might get you out of country music’s purgatory?
She’s was reared by Lyric Street (Disney) and now rests under the watchful eyes of one of the industry’s most nefarious labels. At this point, Ashley Gearing epitomizes the phrase “a product of Nashville.”
As such, “What You Think About Us” is a commercial construct that lacks spirit or spunk. Here’s hoping that, in the future, this talented young singer finds something worth singing about.