Here in the UK, there is a heat wave. It is hot and humid, and your reviewer is watching the ceiling fan struggle as it turns. The cats have retreated to cool places in the shade, and a light summer wine and a bowl of chilled pomegranate are by my side.
Playing through the speakers are the cool summer sounds of the new album by Ashley Sherlock, released on all platforms on June 16th. So, what better way to spend an evening there than listening to some smooth blues rock from Manchester’s singer songwriter, here to entertain me.
“A lot of these songs are about love gained and lost, personal growth, and observations of times in my life,” says Ashley.
Plush studios aren’t the style of Ashley and his band. Instead, Ashely and his bandmates beat a path to Manchester’s Hallam Mill to record the new album in the dead of winter, where they rubbed sparks off each other. “The whole recording process was a real learning experience,” says Ashley.
“We spent four solid days in December in the attic of this old English cotton mill, recording this album mostly live for ten hours a day. It was freezing, and we’d huddle around a small heater for warmth between takes. We had a real blast, though, and it brought us all closer, while helping us gain a mutual understanding of the song’s context and how to deliver it best to the listener.”
Ashley Sherlock, picture by Charlotte Wellings
So here is my talk through for the album:
1. “Trouble” (4:47) Opens with a rocker, with a heavy drum and bass sound layered under this smooth and sexy vocal. A fret-flaying solo assists the song, which reaches out and grabs from the start.
2. “I Think She Knows” (3:45) is a slower and moodier track; it has a different feel altogether, and reminds me of a night in Madrid under the Spanish sky. There is some great guitar work in the mid-part of the song, setting a solid tempo.
3. “Realise” (2:24) takes us to the “castles of sand” with a heavy riff. It is a good driving song, I wish I wasn’t in my living room. I want to get into an open top and cruise along with this one blasting out. I like the rawness of it.
4. “Empty Street” (3:10) is an old style number, more of a power ballad; again, I like the vocals, this guy can really sing! There is a confident swagger about the track, and it has this soaring chorus that totally grabs the attention. “I wrote that song during lockdown at 5 a.m., in my bathroom, of all places,” laughs Ashley. “The acoustics were good! “Empty Street” talks about having a conversation with yourself about the good and bad sides of a personality and understanding that sometimes in life, it is what it is.”
5. “Time” (5:02) Now I liked this one a lot, the intro really hooked me in. It has this wonderful melody and a different feel to the whole piece. I bet this one would go so well live. I think it is possibly my favourite so far and will be heading straight to my playlist. There is this little guitar break at half way that, again, takes me into a little tapas bar where Hemingway once told his stories. It does shake me, (as the lyrics say), and it’s hard not to get up and dance to it.
6. “Our Love” (3:01). Ashley tells us that “Our Love” takes us to the rhythm of a wild west wagon. It is actually a romantic number, dreamy, and connects to those feelings we all have from time to time! It’s a track that reminds me of those Red Hot Chili Peppers!
7. “Goodbye To You” (3:30) opens with this darker drum sound, with Danny Rigg doing a sterling turn on the kit, and I liked his drumming throughout this album. He anchors the sound and keeps things really tight. This song is one of those that plays along in the album, and I’m okay with it.
8. “Dear Elizabeth” (3:53) was the second single from the album. It was released in May and is a rhythmic ballad. I have the YouTube track below, and you can have a listen. It shows what Ashley delivers, but is probably not atypical of the album. “Dear Elizabeth is probably one of our favourite songs off the record,” says Ashley. “It’s a song about realising your mistakes when sometimes it’s too late.” He notes that it is almost “a letter to a lost friend.
9. “Something’s Got To Give” (2:48) A short number, it has some solid chorus hooks and a great bass line.
10. “Last Call” (3:29) has a great groove, a chorus to sway to, and puts a smile on your face. At this moment, I pour another glass of wine and relax into the sound.
11. “What If I Said To You” (2:57) is a track to unwind to, and I have the feel of the album now; this one slots in just nicely and continues very much as the sister song to “Last Call.”
12. “Backstage Wall” (3:33) closes the album in style.
Standout tracks: “Time” and “Trouble.”
So, an overview. Having listened to the whole album, I am so glad I did! I felt better for it, Ashley has an amazing voice, and he is so lucky to have Charlie and Danny with him. For a first album, it is first class and has a couple of absolute belters. Ashley Sherlock, remember the name as you will be hearing a whole lot more from him.
You can download the album here
Ashley Sherlock – Guitars, Lead Vocals
Charlie Rachael Kay – Bass, Backing Vocals
Danny Rigg – Drums, Backing Vocals
All songs written by Ashley Sherlock, Danny Rigg and Charlie Rachael Kay
Produced by Ashley Sherlock, Danny Rigg and Charlie Rachael Kay
Engineered by Danny Rigg
Mixed by Ashley Sherlock, Danny Rigg and Charlie Rachael Kay
Mastered by Pauler Acoustics
Executive producer Thomas Ruf
Album photography by Charlotte Wellings
Album Artwork by Kate Moss
By Lorraine Foley
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