The Shires’ debut album Brave has hit the UK’s top 10 making them the first homegrown country act to break into that coveted slot
The Shires, Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle (from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) – who recently became the first UK signing to the re-launched Decca Nashville label – released their debut album Brave on Monday March 2, and it was announced last night that it has reached number 10 in the UK album charts making them the first British country act to have their album break into that coveted slot. Having overtaken Hozier, and just behind Paloma Faith, The Shires now sit comfortably alongside mainstream pop acts such as Kelly Clarkson, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.
Official Charts Company Chief Executive Martin Talbot, confirmed this unprecedented achievement: ‘This is a fantastic feat by this young British country act. No country act has ever made this kind of impact before – the fact they are challenging for a Top 10 spot is truly remarkable.”
The Shires’ record-breaking chart position is further evidence of the current cultural shift of country music moving eastwards from Nashville. From Dolly Parton’s Pyramid Stage set at Glastonbury last summer, to the increasingly successful annual Country to Country Festival at The O2, and the popularity of recent hit musical TV show ‘Nashville’, never before has the country music genre had such a following in this country. Young British artists are now identifying with country singers such as Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves, who have re-defined the genre by eradicating old stereotypes and appealing to a much younger audience.
BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris comments on the phenomenon: ‘I’ve been doing the country show for 15 years now, and in the whole of that time I’ve never known things to be quite as exciting as they are today … Country is now appealing to a completely new, young generation.’
After forming in 2013, The Shires very quickly attracted industry fans and mainstream radio support, sparking much interest from the press in the rapidly growing popularity of country music in the UK.
Director of BBC Music and CMA board member, Bob Shennan, comments: ‘From the very first play, The Shires have proved to be a class act. They also prove that a British artist can create authentic country music – and the fact that BBC Music has supported them via BBC Introducing and now Radio 2 is testament to their obvious talent and songwriting ability. We hope they can take Nashville by storm!’
As country music continues to penetrate British culture, today it is The Shires who are firmly at the forefront.
Their debut album Brave is out now.