Shantell Ogden, photo - Brad Hardisty

Shantell Ogden, photo – Brad Hardisty

Shantell Ogden  has been working on her third solo album with session Nashville Guitarist, John Willis whose credits include Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Taylor Swift, Gretchen Wilson among others as well as being honored as “Guitarist of the Year” in 2002 by The Academy of Country Music.

John Willis at Willisoundz, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Willis at Willisoundz, photo – Brad Hardisty

While tracking at Willisoundz, The Nashville Bridge was able to ask Shantell a couple of questions about the process and excitement going on with the current project.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How did you end up choosing to work with John Willis?

Shantell Ogden: I was talking with a hit-songwriter friend, Jan Buckingham, and told her I was looking for someone who could help me with a ‘left-of-country’ project that would be more alternative/folk sounding. She replied, “That’s John Willis. He can do it all.” She connected us and I went by his studio, Willisoundz, to say hello and check out the space. I played him a couple of rough songs and we talked about where we could go with it. I decided on the spot he was the right person for me to work with on the project because he produces, engineers and plays. In addition to working with top country acts such as Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney, he has also worked with Jewel, Anita Baker and India Arie.  Because of his broad range of experience across genres, I knew we could do what made sense musically for the songs and not just throw a banjo on it because we’re in Nashville.

John Willis, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Willis, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: Can you tell us about how you wrote the new song out in Cape Cod?

S.O.: One of my challenges as a writer is that I love ballads and the sadder the better! So, most of my favorite songs are slow or mid tempo- which creates an interesting dynamic when you put the songs in an album collection. I’ve written a lot with Bill DiLuigi, and when he came with me to Cape Cod to play Live from Center Stage, I told him we had to come back with an up-tempo happy song for the album.  I had the title idea from a quote I loved and Bill worked up a nice melody/groove idea; we wrote it sea side on the Cape our last day there. It’s called “Where You’re Not” and it’s about finally settling down after many years of looking. I love the way it turned out!

John Willis, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Willis, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: What do you feel is new about this project?

Shantell Ogden, photo - Brad Hardisty

Shantell Ogden, photo – Brad Hardisty

S.O.:  I’m excited about this record because it’s a real evolution for me as a writer/artist. As John puts it, it’s good to stretch your wings as an artist and that’s exactly what I’m doing with the album.

TNB: It looks like you have teamed up with some great songwriters.

Brad Hardisty, Shantell Ogden, John Willis at Willisoundz, September 2013

Brad Hardisty, Shantell Ogden, John Willis at Willisoundz, September 2013

S.O.: I’ve partnered with some of the best hit writers is Nashville, Jan Buckingham and Wood Newton, as well as some of my fast-rising songwriting peers Bill DiLuigi and Marcum Stewart for the project. As a result, the writing is fearless and honest. Thanks to John’s musical abilities, every song will have interesting textures and instrumentation. We aren’t making another cookie-cutter record here, and I can’t wait to share it!

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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