Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
Manchester’s Ashley Sherlock is a new name to me. The album is listed as Blues but in reality it’s so much more than that.
The biog lists influences from Guns n Roses, to Cadillac 3 to Dire Straits, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jeff Buckley and as such what we have here is an album that very much has its own identity and that doesn’t sit comfortably within any genre pigeon-holes.
The album was recorded with Ashely on guitars and vocals, supported by Charlie Rachael Kay on bass and Danny Rigg on drums and they have deliberately not over-layered the songs on this album, preferring to keep the arrangements open and spacious. The album was recorded with the whole band playing together live and you can really hear that in the tracks. It is an approach that pays dividends and works very well with the style of songs being showcased.
Opener ‘Trouble’ is an infectious, raucous and rambunctious rocker with bags of power and attitude that just begs to be played loud and proud. It is followed by the quite fabulous ‘I Think That She Knows’ which has a wide range of influences within it. The verses/choruses remind a me a little of early Matchbox 20 and that early 2000s alternative rock vibe and then the guitar solo kicks in with a real Hendrixy power trio vibe. It’s a fabulous track made all the better by Ashley’s emotive vocal.
‘Realise’ continues the Alternative Rock vibe, with huge slabs of guitar, lively bass and more of those delicious vocals while ‘Empty Street’ has a wonderful laid-back Country-Rock vibe, with a gentle groove and refined, subtle guitars. I love the production on this, which enables a load of space to give the melodies room to breathe in the verses, building up to more dense and powerful choruses. The melodies in this are very strong indeed and it is a personal highlight.
The Country vibe continues on ‘Time’ which has a wonderful groove courtesy of Kay and Rigg, enabling Ashley Sherlock to work his vocal magic over the top, with layers of strummed acoustic and clean electric guitars filling the sound in. It’s an absolutely superb track for sure.
‘Our Love’ takes us back to the laid-back mid-paced Alternative Rock vibes before the big guitars and Blues-Rock power-trio vibe of ‘Goodbye To You’ roars out of the speakers. The guitars are big, brash and bold and the vocals have that classic and characteristic Blues-Rock wail. Even here though, the band pay close attention to dynamics, quietening and slowing the track down to provide contrast in the middle before kicking back in at full pelt.
‘Dear Elizabeth’ starts very quietly and subtly, with quite delightful vocals and gentle clean guitars. The way that the bass and drums build up and become more fiery in the choruses is so effective and I personally love the way that all the rhythm guitars drop out under the first part of the solo, as it reinforces the live feel that permeates the whole record. Another personal favourite from the album for sure.
‘Something’s Got To Give’ returns us to the Alternative Rock vibe from earlier in the album but with a more infectious chorus and some of Ashley’s best vocals on the entire album. A fiery guitar solo lifts the track further, providing further evidence of a band on top of their game and then some.
‘Last Call’ kicks in with a slow to mid-paced slice of Classic Rock with a quite delightful chorus before ‘What If I Said To You’ and ‘Backstage Wall’ close the album in fine style.
In this age of cut-and-paste recording, quantizing and over-layering of everything, this album is a breath of fresh air. There is a really strong ‘live’ feel to everything here and it is what this type of music should sound like.
There is a warmth to it as well, giving it a beautifully comforting vibe enabling the listener to get lost in the very fine vocal and instrumental work. Nothing is overcooked here: everything is ‘just right’ and as such it is a very fine album indeed. I bet these songs would sound absolutely awesome played live in a dark and sweaty club too.
Album Track Listing
1. Trouble (4:47)
2. I Think She Knows (3:45)
3. Realise (2:24)
4. Empty Street (3:10)
5. Time (5:02)
6. Our Love (3:01)
7. Goodbye To You (3:30)
8. Dear Elizabeth (3:53)
9. Something’s Got To Give (2:48)
10. Last Call (3:29)
11. What If I Said To You (2:57)
12. Backstage Wall (3:33)
Official Website: https://ashleysherlock.com/