Living Dead by Amanda Ashley Trio
Amanda Ashley is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist that combines many eclectic styles, and utilizes every side of her personality in a show; often two sides, sometimes three!
Here newest EP, Living Dead, released on Halloween represents this unique quality of Amanda Ashley, and her trio backs her up. The trio combines Ashley on vocals, piano, and guitar, and her friends Beau Ryan on electric bass, and Joe Randazzo on drums and percussion. The five track EP covers many styles, and many sides of Ashley’s personality. In addition to the music, the trio has added some spooky Halloween/ Thriller-themed spoken tracks to complement the zombie theme set by the photos of the EP.
The first track, the title track, sets the tone for the EP. It combines many styles, most notably funk and pop, but Ashley’s vocal color and style is reminiscent of old soul and Motown (which can be heard throughout the whole EP). Colors of Michael Jackson can be heard in the funk-influenced pop sound, particularly in the bass line, which has “Billie Jean” in its DNA. The song, like many of today’s women singer-songwriters, discusses personal fulfillment and the happiness of the narrator. This particular song might make the listener think “If pop singers were cool, they might sound like this.”
Immediately, Ashley and trio yanks the handbrake and drifts hard left on “Glowing.” This track starts in a bossa nova feel, which is the last thing the listener expects. The sound accesses a lighter sounds from Ashley, and works like a unpointed love song. The bass sings in the bossa nova feel, and the drums take a pleasant backseat. Then, all of a sudden, the piece switches to a rock/ funk feel with a Red Hot Chili Peppers influence. It also showcases Ashely’s skill set fully; her guitar ability (with some great extended harmonies/ lydian sounds), the piano playing and voicings, and her vocal range.
Next, “80 Cents,” is a country tune (yes, you read that correctly). It tells a personal story of Ashley’s during a tour of Tennessee, and her finding her way. It is more rock influenced than a true twangy country sound, and with some great string sounds, which were again were present throughout the whole EP.
“Pretty Little Afterthought,” is a great Tennessee influenced piece, that uses Ashley’s Motown sounding vocals. The piece starts with a cool guitar intro. It tells the story of woman asking more from a man in tough times. It listens like a Motown song from a woman’s perspective. This a piece that not only shows off Ashley’s songwriting prowess, but it shows her place as a woman songwriter covering an old topic with a modern perspective and old soul.
Finally, Ashley wraps up the music with “Almond Joy,” a great poppy and bubble gum piece with a 12/8 rock feel. It’s a positive love song that takes the lead with a woman narrator, and leaves the listener with a big, wide grin.
On the whole, this an EP that showcases a very talented and diverse singer-songwriter. It takes older sounds and makes them modern. In every song, Ashley’s background shines; the strings that permeate the whole EP, her piano and guitar voicings, and how she constructs parts of her melodies. Her ability as an “intuitive songwriter” as her bassist says creates a great listening experience. Her band helps to refine her compositions, and own their own playing. Randazzo’s simple and to-the-point drumming gives the right amount of “oomph” and drive while still somehow being under Ashley’s vocals to let her shine. Ryan on the bass is particular treat. His composition is solid, and his clean and crisp playing makes his instrument sing and complement the vocals and drummer.
To purchase Living Dead, look here:
To check out Ashley and her trio, check here: