Country duo debut

The Shires [c. Pip for Decca Records]
The Shires [c. Pip for Decca Records]

It may not be Nashville, but Shefford has been harvesting one of the leading lights of the British country music scene.

Singer Crissie Rhodes, 26, is one half of country duo, The Shires, with musician Ben Earle, and their debut album ‘Brave’ was released on Monday.

In the last few days it has garnered impressive sales through iTunes and Amazon, and looks possible to break into the UK top 10 albums chart next week ­– the first country album in recent years to do so.

Crissie previously auditioned for the X­Factor and combines her emotive singing with Ben’s songwriting in the band.

She said: “Ben sent me a couple of songs on email and I thought ‘I love this.’ We met up the next day and it went really well rehearsing together.”

Former Samuel Whitbread Academy student Crissie has performed at pubs and music venues around the area including in Shefford, where she grew up, and for the regular Performers and Pints event in Potton. The Shires played one of their first gigs together at the Stratton House Hotel in Biggleswade.

Ben told the Chronicle: “This album is from a collection of songs I wrote over about five years. I wrote the single ‘Brave’ before I even met Crissie.

“We have songs like ‘Friday Night’ which is a very poppy song and also a few songs from our trip to Nashville last year. It just reflects our influences.

“I listened to Lady Antebellum and I loved the country harmonies.”

The duo goes on their first headline tour next month and includes dates at Milton Keynes theatre on April 13 and Bedford Corn Exchange on April 27.

For more information visit www.theshiresmusic.com.