Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Ashley Riley - All The Pretty Things Self Released

While this blog tends to prefer covering US artists who appear to be actively seeking UK coverage, occasionally you come across somebody who you feel would be a neat fit into the burgeoning Americana scene over here. Just after Christmas an impending release by Ashley Riley crossed my radar and made an instant impression. The good news is that ALL THE PRETTY THINGS has now been formally issued and if the hard copy may be tricky to get hold of at least that well known popular download store is making the record available over here.

The reason you should check out Ashley’s album is that it’s a gorgeous collection of nine beautifully crafted songs that encompasses all that is valued in the folk/rock/acoustic scene. Her sublime vocals straddle a varied selection of song structures given added impetus by a backing band keen to mix strings and keys to full effect. Often you have to take a step back when a bio or press release indulges in name-checking hyperbole but it is difficult to argue with references to Stevie Nicks and Jewel and Ashley herself has no finer inspiration mentioned than Patty Griffin. Added to her exquisite vocals, Ashley shows she’s no mean song writer in both lyrical content and melody construction.

Hailing from Decatur, Illinois, Ashley has been actively involved in recording since 2008 and while her previous records haven’t been checked out yet, the nine songs from ALL THE PRETTY THINGS are perfect appetizers to appreciate her talent. The genre for female singer-songwriters to take their music in a folk-rock direction is growing on both sides of the Atlantic and the Americana scene seems to be the natural home. Straight from the acoustic opener ‘Made of Dreams’ through to the tranquil closer ‘Lie To Me’, where Ashley shows she’s the master of the slow song, Americana fans will drool over the enchanting quality. The punchy title track ‘All The Pretty Things’ explodes with a captivating and harmony-laced chorus and rivals ‘Trouble’ for the stand out track. The latter draws faint comparisons with the rather good Be Good Tanyas song ‘Light Enough To Travel’ which is another esteemed name to add to her sound association.

At 33 minutes long, ALL THE PRETTY THINGS won’t take up much of your valuable listening time, unless like me you have a continual impulse to press the repeat button. Regardless of the volume of plays, listening to this record won’t be a second wasted and the challenge will not to be addicted. There was no indication in the press release of a plan for Ashley Riley to have the UK on her horizon but I’m sure in this digital age support from anywhere in the world is welcome. Whether or not the enjoyment of Ashley’s music remains a distant connection, checking her out is highly recommended especially if you like quality female vocalists cutting their teeth in the world of folk/Americana/rock.

All The Pretty Things is available on UK ITunes from Feb 18


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