Monday, January 25, 2010

New Favorite

Not to conjure Alison Krauss or anything, but I have a new favorite: Sarah Buxton. I'm actually a little embarrassed that I didn't catch on a little earlier. After all, my pal Victoria Shaw, who has co-written with Buxton, has been Tweeting about her for months.

I like her music, I like her attitude and I like her stick-to-it-ivness.

In her self-penned bio, singer-songwriter Buxton says she "had a whole plan mapped out" when she signed with Lyric Street Records in 2005. Then reality revised her best-laid plans, as her bio further notes: "What's the old adage? 'If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans?' Well ... I told him. And he laughed!"

Buxton is thankful her career didn't take off quite as quickly as she had hoped. Her latest single, "Outside My Window," has become the highest-charting of four that Lyric Street has released since 2006. As Buxton's first single to break into the top 30 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, "Outside My Window" has peaked at No. 25. With 30 weeks on the tally, "Outside" is No. 28 on the latest edition of the chart.

Buxton's self-titled album -- on which she shares production credits with Dann Huff, Craig Wiseman and Blair Daly -- is due February 23.

"I would have liked to hit one home run and then another home run," Buxton recently told me. "But I almost feel lucky that things didn't happen back then, because the things that I've learned about life and about myself have been really valuable for who I'm going to be as a woman."

A native Kansan, Buxton moved to Nashville after high school. "I grew up just enjoying music. I didn't grow up thinking I was going to do this with my life," she says, citing Stevie Nicks and Patty Loveless among her influences.

It was Nicks' music that inspired Buxton to write songs. "I remember listening to her album and realizing, 'She's writing letters about her life and putting melodies behind it. I can do that.'" Now Buxton calls songwriting "an obsession. The more I write, the more I want to write," she says. "When I started, I wrote maybe 10 songs a year; now I write hundreds." She co-wrote "Outside My Window" with Mark Hudson, Shaw and Gary Burr.

Buxton's forthcoming album also includes her version of "Stupid Boy," the Keith Urban hit she co-wrote with Dave Berg and Deanna Bryant. "I actually prefer listening to Keith's version because it's cool when someone else sings your song," Buxton says. "He totally took it to another planet. But I also want people to hear what that same lyric sounds like from the female perspective."

Buxton's effervescent video for her single, shot with songwriter Hudson for $80, is airing on GAC and CMT. "My record label didn't even know we were doing it," she recalls with a laugh. "It was like a home video. In fact, (singer) John Rich texted me and said, 'Thanks a lot, Sarah. Now the budget for my next video is only going to be $100.'"

Buxton will head out on the Country Throwdown tour in May. Created by Vans Warped tour founder Kevin Lyman, the jaunt features Montgomery Gentry, Little Big Town and Jack Ingram as headliners. Joining Buxton as part of the tour's lineup are pals Emily West and Jamey Johnson. "It's going to be so much fun," Buxton says.

For now, Buxton is celebrating the success of her single. "It's so rewarding," she says. "It's like getting a report card back. I feel like I've had B and C-plus-type of songs. Now I feel like I've finally gotten a B-plus or A-minus."