Ashley Shadow

Ashley Shadow

Felte, 2016

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka


From the fertile Vancouver music scene comes Ashley Shadow (a.k.a. Ashley Webber), with her eponymous debut album. Having previously worked with fellow Vancouver-based acts such Bonnie Prince Billy, Pink Mountaintops, and Lightning Dust (of which her sister Amber is member), several members of these bands (e.g. Joshua Wells of Lightning Dust) in turn performed on the album supporting Ashley. This disc finds Ashley stepping out on her own to create an album in her own name rather than remaining…well, just a shadow.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Ashley Shadow is a non-assuming collection of songs that blends the sound of bands like Mazzy Star and the Cowboy Junkies for a set of laidback but very compelling indie-rock, with a bit of that melancholy sound found on albums like R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People. The song structures are fairly straightforward composition with strong hooks and melodies throughout. Through the use of what would now probably be called a “traditional” rock arrangement/instrumentation, she eschews complexity in favor of simplicity. Synthesizers add a gauzelike backdrop to her guitar, serving as a nice foil to boost her voice on the choruses.

The album opens with the moody waltz, “All For You,” a sad but sweet song about being left behind by her lover. There are other slow, melancholy waltzes on this album, such as “In Shadows,” “Blurred Views,” and “Sun” (for a total of four of the nine songs). Nonetheless, it suits her style very well, giving the songs a kind of off-kilt sway to them. When she does take on standard time (4/4), the results are just as good, although she uses a similar kind of odd, lilting strum pattern (e.g. “Another Day” and “Way It Should).

Other highlights include “Tonight” with its smoldering guitar, which combusts at the ends with its noisy but brief solo. The propulsive beat of “Tired” shows a somewhat more upbeat side to the album. The album closes with the admonition “don’t get too close to the sun,” alluding to the Icarus myth to frame the perils of love. It is a beautiful, chilled out album full of simple, sweet songs, full of longing and loss, heartache and hope. This is a perfect album for that rainy afternoon you spend indoors, for those pensive moments alone.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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