Ashley Monroe’s performance last night was truly one of a kind. Even though through a livestream, the performance wasn’t just vocally brilliant & musically en-captivating but full of humour. There were some real surprises and first-time performances that’s making me eagerly anticipate her upcoming album “The Blade.”
The band kicked off with a slow paced tempo that soon gained momentum as soon as Mrs. Monroe stepped out upon the stage to open with: “I Buried Your Love Alive.” This opening set course a motion of wonder and pure excitement that continued well into the encore. As soon as the song faded a real display of showmanship pursued. Ashley not only as an artist showed respect to the song’s co-writers, but she engaged with the audience on a personal level, as she mentioned the influences behind the foundations of what brought the song to existence.
This then led into “If The Devil Don’t Want Me” which as a song had all the right vibes about it, it was incredibly well composed. The backing vocals were timed exceptionally to the point where they were not just suitable, but they added power to Ashley’s already distinctive voice. The reaction from the crowd upon the final note was one of admiration as they burst into excitement leading to ask for specific tracks even though the show had only just begun.
For her next song, Mrs. Monroe brought forth one of her most well-known renditions “Like A Rose”. The song speaks for itself “I Was Only 13 when daddy died…” sets in motion a story of hardship. The young woman goes through heartache at such a young age but manages to blossom just “Like A Rose.” It has the real feel of a Country song, as there are people growing up today who will be able to relate to the very story of losing a dear relative at such a young age.
The lack of the other two Annie’s didn’t cause any relapse in the quality of this next record. “Unhappily Married” in its original format is sung by, Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley & Miranda Lambert, who as a trio worked in sheer harmony making it such a pleasure to listen to. This didn’t stop Ashley from making the brave decision to go it alone. What was taken away was made up for with the cleverly thought out solo’s, which in turn made for quite a diverse mixture of Ashley’s vocals and the instrumentals of her backing.
A “Bombshell” was dropped quite literally soon after. As a track, “Bombshell” puts on full display Ashley’s vocal capacity. Her vocal talent was this songs’ clear highlight as not only did she sing it beautifully but her style matched the song.
The meaning of “If Love Was Fair” was just as true as it was deep. It made you think about the what ifs, what if everything was perfect? This very notation helps you to not only understand the song, but it gives you the sense of being able to connect with it. “If Love Was Fair” was another excellent example of Mrs. Monroe’s vocal talent. She again matched the style of the song making it that ever more bit enjoyable to listen to.”
“Dixie” was another prime example of what made the night such an incredible one at that. The song has an upbeat feel to it, which was created by the variety of instruments on display. It wasn’t just Ashley with the guitar; there were a violin and cello involved which helped to add to the diversity factor. This factor made “Dixie” upbeat and refreshing, making it a pleasant change from the usual instrumental sets of the mainstream.
Ashley again took the individuality factor that she applied to the Pistol Annie’s prior and placed it on a song she and Miranda had written in Knoxville. “Heart Like Mine” had already seen Miranda’s take but Ashley saw tonight as an opportunity to put her own unique mark on the song she helped write. This choice was not made in vain it had the right feel to it again as it didn’t feel Pop-Country or Rock-Country it felt like pure, unchanged Country.
The only song on Ashley’s next album she didn’t write was “The Blade” which due to a decision she felt would be right to make the cut. The decision paid off well, as “The Blade” isn’t just strong lyrically, but the right choice has been achieved once again to pair Mrs. Monroe up with the record as it suits her performance style. Even if the song is in an essence meant to be sad, I couldn’t find myself upset as this was another enjoyable experience.
“Onto Something Good” turned that supposed frown into a state of utter happiness. As her latest single it works wonders. With it being a happy, upbeat track, she smiled all the way throughout passing that onto the audience who reacted with cheers of joy all around. That happiness was just infectious. Ashley with the song opened up ever more on a personal level heeding words of encouragement to those who just may want to hear it: “Just keep going, you’ll be onto something good.”
All good things must come to an end sadly. The closing song in the most suitable way of occurrences was “Winning Streak.” The way the night had been before made this the grandest of departures. This Boot Stomping Annie surely did end on a high. It was fun a track that made for a great listen, but most importantly the crowd loved and felt it.
Encore….There needs to be an encore & thankfully one did occur. The first song to face the audience was “Mayflower” which was incredibly well written. It didn’t just have an evident story to it, but it genuinely put a smile on my face, It was fun upbeat and original. This was shortly preceded by “Give Me Weed Instead Of Roses” due to a fans request. It was again performed in an incredible manner.
What made the encore something special, was the moment when we thought the performance had ended. The band had begun to exit the stage, Mrs. Monroe remained with the guitar in hand to play a solo rendition of “Hickory Wind.” It was played incredibly well. You can take the band away from Ashley, but you can’t take away from what makes her a unique Country artist. Her voice and her style are one of a kind.
It wasn’t just the musical side of the evening that made this event special. Ashley brought the humor with her; she joked about being the “Hippie Annie” of the Pistol Annies as well as engaging the audience on an intimate level. She’s the originality that Country music needs. As diverse as Country is becoming, it needs its links to its inner roots, it’s artists like Ashley that are keeping the genre alive and well.
Ashley Monroe’s upcoming album “The Blade” releases July 24th. You can pre-order her album here: smarturl.it/theblade (US)
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