One of the most unique musical releases of the year is "Where It Began," from Texas-born singer/songwriter Shellee Coley. Helping it to fit that definition is the fact that it is one of the most diverse records that you will hear -- containing slices of country, pop, folk, and Americana. Coley admits one of her main goals for the album was not trying to fit into a box stylistically.
"I kind of get bored easily with one genre of music," she admits. "I have a few artists that I am loyal to, but sometimes I will listen to three or four songs on a record and hop around," she tells Billboard. "I think it would be real sad for me to only make one kind of music. I don't listen to it that way, so I don't know why I would make it that way. I'm so grateful for the way the business is now, because you really don't have to. There's still the question 'What genre are you?' and I was nervous as far as the Americana world goes, because they are purists. I was concerned they weren't going to like the music, but we cut the songs, and then see how it works out. We didn't go in saying 'This is going to be country, or this is going to be rock.' We just play them, and they sound like they sound."
One of the best cuts on "Where It Began" is the melodic "Waiting." Listen here:
That sound has impressed many critics that have heard the album. The reviews have rolled in at such a fast and furious clip that Coley herself admits to having some difficulty to absorb it all.
"It's been overwhelming, but in a great way," she says. "You spend your whole life thinking that you want something, and when you start to get it, you think you don't have a place for it in your brain."
After graduating high school in Texas, Coley rolled the dice and moved to Nashville for college, attending the city's famed Belmont University.
"I went there for music business as far as a major goes. As soon as I realized I was going to have to take accounting, I quit, and became a theatre major," she says, summing up her Music City experience by saying, "I went to Nashville to become famous, and didn't. So, I went back to Texas. I got married in Nashville, and my husband and I were there for a year, then we moved to Houston for him to manage a band."
As it turned out, moving back home changed her writing and performing style a bit. While she had been away, the scene had changed in Texas -- considerably.
"It had, because I was in Nashville when the whole Texas Music scene was coming to life," she confirms. "There were great Texas musicians when I left Conroe for Nashville, but there wasn't what is called 'Texas Music' as a genre, and the only music scene was at Church. I remember my mother calling me and saying 'There's this guy named Hayes Carll, and he's incredible.' It was like the old country music that we grew up on. I grew up listening to Christian and country music, so that's my influence. So, coming back to Texas, and being around all these musicians that take their music serious influenced me for sure."
Over the next few months, Coley plans to promote the album with a single and a tour, and hopes to continue to rack up the positive press -- though no matter how many superlatives the disc earns, there's one audience that she admits is tough to impress.
"It's funny, because I'm generally always with my kids, and I'll tell them that 'Your mom's got an interview today, or 'This reviewer really likes my record,' and they'll look at me and ask if they can turn the TV on," she says with a smile.