Ashley Shadow – Just the End
Felte – September 24, 2021
Ashley shadow returns to the fray with Only the End, an album two years in the making and five years after the release of their first self-titled long player. One step forward, the album marks a new influence, hope. Although atmospheric introspection is still burning, this new leaven gives the slice a different feel, perhaps not a way out of the quagmire, but an acceptance that things are changing.
In collaboration with guitarist and soundboard Ryan Beattie and producer, drummer, keyboardist and bassist Joshua Wells, Shadow finds a way to alleviate the melancholy. Some of the songs I wrote were crap at first, but when we recorded them we loosened them up. ”The difference is palpable.
There's a sense of balance that Shadow had to maintain by doing multiple jobs while trying to save her life and love, especially since the times we live in specialize in instability. If there is an answer, it seems to lie in the resilience to be content with accepting what is rather than trying to find a utopian dream. That seems to be reflected in the music too. "For Love" starts off easy and gentle and sings from self-awareness, "Deep in your heart is another song / If you slow it down soon, it may be gone / Stop fighting the people who are helping you."
One of the people who help her with this is Bonnie "Prince" Billywho joins her on "Don't Slow Me Down". They each take a verse amid acoustic and steel guitars (played by Paul Rigby of Neko Cases Band) before joining together to create a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts. "Unsure tomorrow would be here at all / We ran away from the dark and shook off the cold / Taking back the feeling of everything it controls." The voices create a wondrous mix, even when the chorus of "Don't slow me down." “Indicates endings.
Despite the gloomy title, "Gray" presents another argument for new beginnings. The open is solemn, with Shadow's vocals fluctuating a little. It doesn't take long for the tone to change slightly. There are glimmers of hope on the horizon. "I'm turning my life around / Way too much to think about it / Just carry on like we do / If I could, you are the reason for it." The electric guitar plays a gently loving solo that shows how far it goes Things at this point are removed from the abyss.
While there are dark moments on Only The End, Ashley Shadow's voice seems to transform those moments. She has reached a place of acceptance where the world is not so presumptuous. She is a woman on a journey, and Only the End suggests that wherever it goes, the journey will be worth the risks.
Ashley Shadow is included in our mix KLOF 10. Listen here.
Only The End will be released on September 24, 2021 (CD / digital) and October 29, 2021 (vinyl) via Felte
Photo credit: Tyler Mcleod