FACING THE SHADOW
A CHILD I WAS–RUNNING–RUBIES AND DIAMONDS–STAGE FRIGHT–TO THE MOUNTAIN–HUNT ME DOWN–JUST A LITTLE COLDER–SLEEP CHILD SLEEP (AXEL’S SONG)–TROUBLE–HONEST MAN–TRAVELING SOUL
Ashley Monical’s mom began singing to her as soon as she could talk when she was a child, beginning what would become a lifelong love for music. Ashley gained notoriety as a member of the acoustic folk duo The Wildflowers, with Halley Anna Finlay. For her latest album, “Facing The Shadow,” Ashley and members of the Band Of Heathens—Falcon Valdez on drums, Scott Davis on bass, and Trevor Nealon on keys–journeyed to a cabin in Wimberley, TX, owned by Ashley’s dad for two weeks in the summer of 2014. The songs have a common thread running thru them, as Ashley faces her hopes, dreams, and fears, and expresses this in ways that we all can relate to.
The set starts with the ethereal, piano-based ballad, “A Child I Was,” with iots serene, spiritual theme as a backdrop. “To The Mountain” also has a gospel-like vibe, augmented by the violin of Eleanor Whitmore and the well-spaced guitar lines from Scott Davis.
A wistful love affair, where “he can’t stand to stay and can’t stand to leave” is the theme of “Rubies And Diamonds,” while “Sleep Child Sleep (Axel’s Song)” is a lullaby Ashley wrote for her godson which also serves as a means to impart some of life’s most important lessons to him.
“Trouble” finds her at home “with some moonshine” to “wait you off my mind,” with a cool, sorta-honky-tonk piano solo at the bridge.
Ashley has some blues in her soul, too, and we liked those cuts the best. “Traveling Soul” is a stomping, percussive, Delta-fied trip “down to the river” to seek redemption for “that monkey on my back.” A similar theme drives “Running,” as the lead character is escaping his inner demons, and is akin to “Rumours”-era Fleetwood Mac or early Tom Petty.
Ashley Monical has a stunning voice that deserves to be heard by a broader audience. Here’s hoping that “Facing The Shadow” is her stepping-stone to a great career!! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.