"Burning House," the platinum-selling, breakout single from California-born, Nashville-based singer and songwriter Cam, is something of an anomaly on modern country radio. Released in 2015, the fragile ballad, in which the musician dreams of pulling an ex from a blazing building, serves as a tender, touching antidote to standard-issue bro-country machismo.

"Burning House," the platinum-selling, breakout single from California-born, Nashville-based singer and songwriter Cam, is something of an anomaly on modern country radio. Released in 2015, the fragile ballad, in which the musician dreams of pulling an ex from a blazing building, serves as a tender, touching antidote to standard-issue bro-country machismo.

Plus, it was written and recorded by a woman, surfacing just a month after radio consultant Keith Hill ignited "Tomato-gate" by comparing female country singers to tomatoes in a May 2015 interview with Country Aircheck. "If you want to make ratings in country music, take the females out," he said. "Trust me, I play great female records, and we've got some right now; they're just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females."

Cam has witnessed this discrimination firsthand.

"Even 'Burning House' had a very hard time getting played on the radio. [Programmers] don't hide it from you, either. They'll tell you, 'You're a woman and it's hard for us to play females,'" said Cam, born Camaron Ochs 31 years ago, who headlines a Bluestone concert on Thursday, Dec. 1. "I don't know of any other industry where it's like, 'You know, we're just not hiring men right now.'

"It's a very weird thing, and, I'm not going to lie, it's a bummer. I'm happy 'Burning House' did so well, but sometimes people are like, 'There's a renaissance of women going on [in country music] right now!' And it's like, man, statistically speaking there are maybe six of us in the room at awards shows and it's 100-plus guys. Statistically, we are not a significant group yet."

The musician, who relocated to Nashville from the Bay Area roughly four years ago - "Living in California and thinking about moving to the South, you're picturing people sitting on their porches with banjos," she said, laughing at her naïveté - believes much of this mindset is fueled by fear. With music sales down across the board, radio programmers and record labels have a tendency to fall back on the familiar, which, in this instance, means seeking out songs about mud-caked tires, truck-dominated tailgates and, um, farm equipment (see: Kenny Chesney's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and Keith Urban's "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16").

"It's a very complex set of rules that seem to govern the music industry, and specifically Nashville as a subset of that," Cam said. "It's a very relationship-based industry, and, on top of that, as we move into the digital space, it's harder to sell albums. So sales are down and I think ... parts of the industry respond by being fearful and then try to put out safer music and things that research well, which are usually things that are familiar. And at this time the music that is familiar is the bro-country thing, which, by definition, isn't women."

Cam's sophomore album, Untamed (Arista Nashville/RCA), falls far askew of this testosterone-driven trend line, with the singer spinning tales of romance, heartache and, on "Runaway Train," steely eyed vengeance. In a welcome twist, she's often the one doling out the hurt rather than receding from the spotlight to tend to her wounds. On "Burning House," she admits to wrongdoing even as she aims to "take what's lost and broke and make it right." And on another song she shoots down an ex's half-hearted breakup excuses with a blisteringly succinct reply, countering, "I need my space is still goodbye."

"I think a big part of [writing about relationships] was being in my 20s. That seems to be the time where you're trying to figure yourself out, and then you're also trying to figure out if you belong and can be loved by someone and be loved by yourself," Cam said.

The musician's internal explorations were further fueled by her previous career path; prior to relocating to Nashville to pursue a career first as a songwriter and eventually as a singer, Cam worked in psychology research labs at UC Davis, Berkeley and Stanford.

"In all the labs I worked in, we worked on emotion research, so I think it's something that really interests me and comes naturally to me," Cam said. "I love how music pulls you into an emotional state. What else can do that? I'll be on stage [opening for] Dierks Bentley or Brad Paisley, and it'll be 10,000 people, if not more, and I'll sing 'Burning House' and everyone will sing those words and you can see in their eyes they're all feeling the same thing I was when I wrote it. That's the cool thing about music. It puts everyone on the same frequency for those three minutes."