Kassi Ashton, who recently made the Boot's 2018 Artists to Watch list, took the stage during the annual UMG luncheon at 2018's Country Radio Seminar with a bluesy, brooding performance of her song "The Straw." Readers can press play above to check it out.

Before her performance, Ashton explained the process of writing "The Straw" to the audience of radio professionals and media members: "Last year, I was at a writing camp, and that day, I happened to be writing with Luke Laird and Lori McKenna," she recalled. "I hadn't seen Lori in a while, and I had just gone through a breakup, and she's like, 'You went through a breakup?! What happened?' And I explained, 'Well, the straw that broke my back was ...,' and she gasped and said, 'I've always wanted to write that, "The Straw."' So, here it is."

Accompanied by a single piano, Ashton performed a stripped-down rendition of the ballad; the singer directs her passion toward a country go-to: the subject of heartbreak. Her nuanced, full-throated voice feels at home on ballads, and her performance of "The Straw" is another example of that.

Ashton, who signed with UMG Nashville and Interscope Records late last year, subsequently debuted her first single, "California, Missouri," an unconventional twist on the classic country hometown anthem. In Ashton's case, her hometown of California, Mo., was always a place she knew she needed to leave, so instead of romanticizing it, the song embraces the complexities of loving somewhere and simultaneously feeling limited by it.

Introducing The Boot's 2018 Artists to Watch