Ashley Monroe - 'The Blade'

Ashley Monroe – The Blade (ALBUM REVIEW)The Blade marks Ashley Monroe's follow up album to 2013's incredibly well received Like A Rose. Released on 24th July, the album's thirteen tracks have already received considerable acclaim.

There were three tracks that really drew me in when I first listened to the album and that continues to be the case. From Time To Time is one of those, the track has a comfortable pace that makes you want to tap your foot along and the production works really well with Ashley's vocal. With the main melodic lead coming from the drum line there was a danger that the production could be overpowering - that drum line is quite distinctive - but it has been pitched at a level that contributes to the song rather than hinders it and the deeper pitch of the overall production adds a sense of seriousness to the track. The backing vocals from Sarah Zimmerman and Vince Gill add more substance to the track, particularly in the chorus, allowing for harmonising to be introduced.

Dixie is another of the tracks that really drew me in. Instantly reminiscent of something you would expect Lee Ann Womack to release, the bluesy feel of the track and lyrics such as "I'll be damned if I go down in Dixie when I die" combine with echoes of a traditional country influence to make a really strong track that you want to hear again and again.

My favourite track is, by far, On To Something Good. The big band feel of the track is a brilliant idea, you can't fail to want to tap your foot along (I'd love to hear Ashley sing it with a true big band arrangement!) Lyrically very positive, the listener hears "I'm better dancing when I don't look down", "I'm better moving on than going back" and "I feel like I'm on to something good" amongst others, alongside the upbeat, light feeling production. I honestly think this is a absolutely great song!

Track listing....
1) On To Something Good - Ashley Monroe, Barry Dean, Luke Laird
2) I Buried Your Love Alive - Ashley Monroe, Matraca Berg
3) Bombshell - Ashley Monroe, Gordie Sampson, Steve McEwan
4) Weight Of The Load - Ashley Monroe, Vince Gill
5) The Blade - Marc Beeson, Allen Shamblin, Jamie Floyd
6) Winning Streak - Ashley Monroe, Chris Stapleton, Jessi Alexander
7) From Time To Time - Ashley Monroe, Justin Davis, Sarah Zimmerman
8) If Love Was Fair - Ashley Monroe, Steve Moakler, Jessi Alexander
9) Has Anybody Ever Told You - Ashley Monroe, Tyler Cain
10) Dixie - Ashley Monroe, Justin Davis, Sarah Zimmerman
11) If The Devil Don't Want Me - Ashley Monroe, Chris Stapleton, Jessi Alexander
12) Mayflowers - Ashley Monroe, Brendan Benson
13) I'm Good At Leavin'  - Ashley Monroe, Jessi Alexander, Miranda Lambert

The Blade is undoubtedly a very strong album, featuring some of country music's biggest and best song-writers, including artists such as Alison Krauss providing backing vocals. Ashley has honed the song-writer skill that has been evident previously and it feels as though The Blade has a more mature overall sound. Ashley herself confirmed that she is coming over to the UK next year and is also due to head out on her own US headlining tour. I'd definitely recommend purchasing this album, the sound here gives more of a well rounded sound than the traditional country orientated Like A Rose - The Blade is, in my opinion, a lot stronger than the 2013 release - and definitely sets Ashley up as an artist to watch.