Alt-country princess Ashley Monroe will never forget the first awkward song she composed at 13.
"It was called 'I Need You More Every Day,' and I tried to fill in all the gaps with 'oh I's," she says, then launches into a rousing "oh I"-peppered rendition.
"But it was right before my dad passed away, so he got to hear that one song I'd written. And after that, my heart just got heavy, and I'd hear a melody and I'd hear words. And the songs just started pouring out."
Now, Monroe – who appears with Train next week – churns out so many twangy gems, she's behind two of the strongest Nashville albums of the year: Her own brilliant Vince-Gill-produced "Like a Rose" (with its campy "Weed Instead of Roses"), and "Annie Up," her sophomore effort with side group (with Miranda Lambert and Angeleena Presley) the Pistol Annies.
She also duets on the recent Train single "Bruises," and is a member of Jack White's Third Man House Band.
Like her good friend Kacey Musgraves, Monroe worships old-school country. "When I sing songs that I've written, I'm going somewhere else," she says. "I close my eyes a lot, and I'm almost levitating. I don't have to shoot out of a cannon or fly over the audience – you can hold them by singing your heart out and really feeling it."IF YOU GO
Performing with Train
Where: America's Cup Pavilion, Piers 27-29, S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 11
Tickets: $52 to $96.05
Contact: (415) 371-5500, www.ticketmaster.com