By Jennifer Russo
Sweet and sultry, that’s Ashley Jordan’s voice. She’s a country/folk singer from the little residential town of Harvard, MA who strapped a guitar to her back and decided to take a stroll down the proverbial road to stardom. While it is relatively uncommon to have a singer from this state choose country as his or her go-to genre, listening to Ashley’s drawling vocals over warm acoustic strings you would swear she stepped right out of the heart of Dixie, caught a train and ended up somewhere in MA.
All songs tell a story, but not every singer is a good storyteller. Ashley is not only able to catch you in her web of lyrics, but also simultaneously bring her feelings to the forefront and create empathy in the heart of everyone who hears her music. What I find most compelling is that though her song style is indeed folksy, what she is singing about is relatable to everyone ~ townies and metrosexuals alike.
Her music is truthful and convincing and raises the emotional bar. It’s almost as if Jewel decided to cover a Janis Joplin song in her own sweet style, called upon the impassioned spirit of Damien Rice and pulled it off perfectly. It offers the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. Take Ashley’s song “Phoebe,” a heartbreaking tale of 15 year old Phoebe Prince, a bullying victim who took her own life back in 2010, spurring anti-bullying policies in schools across the state. Ashley tells this story to a beautiful melody, incorporates stunning vocal harmony, and brings a tear to the eye.
Liquid Words is consistent the entire way through. Most songs have the same even tempo with a few change- ups and though there isn’t a great variety in instrumentation, going the simple route works in the artist’s favor. The music stands on its own and doesn’t require a Be-dazzler to add embellishment and sparkle. It shines all on its own in its own beautiful way.
Ashley Jordan will be performing on April 7th at the Acoustic Showcase being held at the Starbucks in Lexington, MA. For more info on this and other shows or to find out more about Ashley, visit her official website at www.ashleyjordanmusic.com.
By Jason Savio
The debut album Vested Interest by CT-based metal group Sever The Drama is a relentless attack of the modern metal fort: thundering double kick drums with head smashing guitars to match. Sever The Drama take the safe approach for most of the recording and successfully incorporate themselves into the same metal stitching as other genre groups of today, but they also veer off and take chances that pay off.
Songs like the opening “Watching You” and “Never Get Another” blast full bore from the very beginning with just the right amount of get-out-of-my-face attitude one would expect. The barbaric onslaught of metal brutality continues in the heavily slow churned thump of “Had To Say Goodbye” and “Forget Me.”
While Sever The Drama can serve up rip-roaring-rock with authority, they spare themselves from comparison to their peers when they hold back and focus their energy. One of the album’s more inspired and original-sounding tracks is “More Than I Can Say;” it has a surprisingly funky bass line and an apocalyptic-march-breakdown. The centerpiece of the CD is “It‘s Been Real,” with vocalist Scott D taking a detour from the usual testosterone-driven lyrics and getting deeper when he contemplates, “Another story/New life is coming/Forever wandering/And I’ve been wondering/What is my purpose?” before jumping into a super-charged chorus.
It can become predictable from time to time, but Vested Interest is a hard-hitting album with enough catchy hooks and surprises snuck in to ultimately help it sound distinguished from other genre releases.
By Jason Savio
You Can’t Take It All With You ~ As Tall As Lions’ third and ultimately final album ~ is a mostly mellow soundscape of swelling textures and vocals with delicate and carefully chosen punctuations of life.
As the album title and cover suggest, the theme of YCTIWY is the dependency we have on our material possessions and the lack of self-sufficiency we display as a result. On the title track, complete with a haunting omni chord opening and trance-like-techno rhythm samples, Julio Tavarez drawls, “I fear there’s nothing left/The world’s gone blind and deaf/We’re given what we choose/Give me unconsciousness.” That’s heavy, Doc.
Not all the songs are ho-hum, though. ATAL show off their roar on the rollicking opener, showcasing a soaring guitar solo and delivering a big chorus on the groovy “Is This Tomorrow,” complete with bright piano jangles. “We’s Been Waitin’” is a bizarre, blues-flavored treat that is more a menacing nightmare than lofty alternative whisper.
The only glaring mistake that ATAL make is a two minute long break of faint ambience in the middle of the final track, “Lost My Mind.” Perhaps trying to covey that particular “state of mind or, maybe more appropriately, “lack-thereof,” they instead put the listener to sleep.
YCTIAWY was riddled with tension between band members and subject to a revolving door of different producers, but is ultimately a well-rounded effort. It is a sample of a band waking up to their full potential. Unfortunately for them, it ended up being only a brief dream.