Last year the duo of Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes became one of the UKs biggest breakout successes of 2015 after they released their debut album ‘Brave’ early in the year on Decca Nashville. The Shires have taken the support from industry tastemakers they received early on in their career and built it into radio plays, record sales and legions of fans and have helped changed the perception of country music across the UK in the process. Having recently headlined the Acoustic stage at this year’s instalment of Glastonbury festival, The Shires aren’t taking time off, as they prepare their second album, which is due later this year.
The first UK country act ever to have a top 10 album in their home country, The Shires have been at the forefront of the British Country music movement which has seen a sea change in the opinion of the British public, who have embraced the genre and UK bands making music inspired by US country artists. The Shires’ success has been unparalleled and has seen them perform at Glastonbury Festival, the Grand Ole Opry and last year even saw their debut go Gold - a huge achievement for any British artist.
On the surface, then, The Shires have raced from 0 to 100mph in no time at all. Had you asked them about any London dates in their first months together and they’d have asked you back whether Watford, St. Albans and Biggleswade count. Now, of course, if you asked them where they’ve played recently they’d point out their shows at Glastonbury, London’s O2 and of course Nashville’s Grand Old Opry, where they recently took their uniquely British take back to the land that inspired it all. But behind all those first impressions lies the story of two musicians who had been working for this for a long time.
“I’d reached the point where I was literally broke,” says Ben, “and I put a thing on Facebook saying ‘There must be a country singer somewhere.’ But then a friend of a friend mentioned Crissie, she came round the next day, we recorded some songs and it’s been so easy since then.”
Now The Shires are working on their new album in Music City: Nashville. The duo are working with top country music producers and are recording their album at Sound Stage Studios, one of the most prestigious recording studios in Nashville, which has cut records for other country superstars such as Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum.