Ashley Monroe

While it seems that all the rest of country music is about flash and partying and “bros,” Ashley Monroe is methodically producing a career based on critically acclaimed music. Her second album, Like A Rose, has received amazing reviews – although the awards shows are a bit slow to get on board.

Not to say she hasn’t had her share of attention. She’s known as one-third of Pistol Annies, alongside Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, and scored a hit with a pop song, “Bruises,” a duet with Train’s Pat Monahan.

And getting married by Blake Shelton certainly is a sign that you’re part of the in crowd.

Photo: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

Still, Monroe is aware that her music, which follows traditional themes with some modern-day twists, is unique, and agent Rod Essig is careful to put her on the right bill.

“I don’t get the crowd pumped and partying because I’m (laughs) singing about ‘The Morning After’ and ‘Like A Rose,’” she told Pollstar. “So [Essig] really pays close attention to where he books me, and I appreciate it.”

Essig was an early supporter of Monroe, who said they met when she was 15 years old and doing her very first showcase for RCA. The label didn’t sign her, but Essig has been a “constant” encouragement, even when Monroe was signed to another agency. Another early believer was manager John Grady – who was the head of Sony and had signed Lambert and Gretchen Wilson.

“He’s always cared about what I’ve been doing and always wants to hear what I’m doing, even when he wasn’t working with me,” she said. “He’s the one I tell everything to. We always have an email exchange every morning while we’re drinking coffee, just touching base about life, music, all of it.”

Grady added the following: “Most of the critics felt that Ashley Monroe made one of the most important records of 2013,” he said. “She is going to do that again in early 2014. Stay tuned.”

“Oh my gosh, yes. I just had my first ‘song meeting’ yesterday,” Monroe said. “I sat down and played [the label and management] 23 new songs. I was a nervous wreck. But the good news is I passed. It went great so, yup, I think we’re going to get going in February or March.”

Monroe has April dates plus visits to the Stagecoach and Winstock festivals.