ASHLEY SOFIA – Shades Of Blue (own label)

Shades Of BlueRaised in the Adirondack Mountains and now based in Nashville, Shades Of Blue is Sofia’s second album, a baker’s dozen of self-penned folk rock tracks co-produced with Kenny Baumann that nod to 70s country and get under way with the cello accompanied little things in life love song ‘Slowing Down’ only to be swiftly followed by the break up Wasted Time with the observation that “you can never get back what you gave up”.

I’ve got wounds and I’ve got scars” she sings on ‘Battlewounds’, a strummed midtempo number about resilience and how our different hurts unite us in a common sufferings and we should have understanding of what makes people act they way they do.

Romantic situations, short-lived or more enduring, inform several numbers, such as the softly sung waltztime ‘Blue Jeans And Blue Eyes’, the infatuation-themed Western-noir ‘Make You Love Me Too’, written for the soundtrack of Goodland, and the ruminative strum of ‘Tangerine And Blue’, while, extending the embrace, the poignant ‘Winter Prayer’, guessingly about her mother or grandmother, concerns the last impact loved ones can have, even long after they’ve departed.

There’s thoughts of home too on the up-tempo good time leg slapper ‘Adirondack Dreams’ while a wider perspective’s taken on the cello-backed ‘Looking For America’ which turns its eye on the state of the nation with a yearning for a dream that may not have died but which has certainly got lost.

With hints of Dolly Parton, a rollicking country slap rhythm number about how people get taken for granted, ‘That Girl Is A Rainbow’ (“and that boy is colourblind”) stands in distinct musical contrast to ‘It Was Only A Dream’ with its an atmospheric desert heat haze and sitar colouring, showing off the growlier range of her vocals.

The smokily sung slow strummed not necessarily autobiographical ‘Blue Lights’ is a particular highlight, a song about the grainer side of a female musician’s ever day a different town life on the road (“I know I’m a little too young to be living like this and not having fun, but this is my work to do and it’s gotta get done”) set in some bar as the narrator’s hit on by a guy with a tattoo (“that’s my favourite book you’ve got the brains and you’ve got the look”).

Taking the leap of faith, it ends with ‘Keep Moving On’, a sprightly strummed, gospel-influenced anthem of perseverance and learning from life’s lessons, however hard they may be, and learning to “set aside my insecurities and pride …to enjoy the ride before I run out of time.” To borrow from her own rainbow metaphor, this may be shades of blue but this girl comes in many splendid colours.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.ashleysofia.com

‘Make You Love Me Too’ – official video: