Ashley Monroe was dressed in white while her band wore black tuxedos. The fashion contradiction symbolized the mood and music on Tuesday night (June 9) at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville. It was a celebration for a bunch of sad, sad country songs.

Few sing heartbreak quite like Monroe. As she worked through ballads like "Bombshell" and "The Blade," it was impossible not to wonder where she was drawing inspiration from. She says she didn't write the latter, the title track of her upcoming second studio album due July 24. It's difficult to believe her.

At one point she took a deep breath upon finishing one of the new batch of melancholy tunes, as if to say "Phew, I did it." Monroe is married to baseball player John Danks, but after such a personal performance, with emotions seemingly bubbling up from just below the surface of her makeup, it's fair to wonder if things aren't going well.

Gossip aside, this is how Monroe sings. The songs she performs are influenced by or remind her of deeply personal experiences. At times she closes her cargo door eyelids and disappears into herself, letting her lilting voice run on autopilot. The fans remain in capable hands — can we start talking about what a talent the East Tennessee native is? — and when the band hits the final chord, she returns, smiles and says "Thank you."

The truth is, Monroe could be singing about a boyfriend from another decade during "The Blade." Only she and maybe Miranda Lambert (who joins her on the studio version of the song) know for sure.

The current single "On to Something Good" came late in the set, after the fragile love song "Has Anybody Ever Told You," the smokey "Dixie" and and the undeniably country "If the Devil Don't Want Me," but before the ironic barroom brawler "Winning Streak."

"If losings a game, I'm on a winning streak," she sings.

As mesmerizing as Monroe is on stage, it's difficult to identify her "hit." The "Like a Rose" singer concedes that her single is unlikely to become 'the one,' even though radio programmers left her enthusiastic and optimistic after her radio tour. The 28-year-old seems to be a solitary rose in a carnation business.

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