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Ashley Shadow - Only the End Music Album Reviews

Ashley Shadow - Only the End Music Album Reviews
Assisted by frequent collaborators like Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the Vancouver singer-songwriter’s second album is a gentle testament to resilience in the face of emotional hardship.

Ashley Shadow believes in the graceful power of acceptance. On her sophomore solo album, five years after her self-titled debut, the Vancouver musician overcomes a series of painful experiences, using natural elements from her home in British Columbia as poetic metaphors. Though largely written in solitude, several of these 10 songs feature frequent collaborators including Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Neko Case guitarist Paul Rigby, and Black Mountain’s Joshua Wells once again handling production. Sounding as if barely a moment has passed since her first album, she has a soothing, country-inflected quiver whose understatement is a big part of its charm.

For listeners in Western Canada, Ashley Shadow may be better recognized by her surname, Webber. During her early twenties, she played bass with cult post-punk band the Organ, whose long out-of-print LPs now fetch triple digits. Webber’s name can also be found in the credits of recordings from the New Pornographers, the Cave Singers, and Lightning Dust, the primary project of her twin sister, Amber. Her biggest moment under the spotlight to date was probably her contribution to Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s 2008 album, Lie Down in the Light, recorded in Nashville and rightfully considered a high-water mark for Will Oldham.

Though not entirely a breakup album, Only the End repeatedly returns to the theme of moving on. On “For Love,” she expresses her admiration for people forced to follow their hearts where they might not want to go. Ushered in with a slow waltz of shakers, the drums pick up steam as she sings a simple reminder that these difficult decisions were made for the right reason: “You did it for love/Not just anything.” Lifted by a triumphant guitar solo from Ryan Beattie of Victoria band Himalayan Bear, “I Will Remember” is her personal plea for support: “Come and show me through the darkest of nights,” she sings with an optimistic lilt. Her voice may be soft, but as the album unfolds its tender strength projects a sense of resilience.

On “From You,” Webber comes to grips with the idea that “everyone has their dark sides,” dropping out the drum kit for a sparse backdrop of pedal-steel shimmer. By contrast, “Grey” features one of the album’s most arresting choruses, highlighted by a buoyant bassline. Following a series of references to the wildfire smoke that has caused dread across the West in recent summers, she delivers a timeless romantic couplet: “After the stormy billows roll/I’ll be by your side forever more.” Her skies may be darkened, whether figuratively or literally, but these hopeful songs feel like attempts to batten down the hatches until the sun beams down again.

“Don’t Slow Me Down” is both the album’s thematic centerpoint and its highlight. This sweet and sour duet with Bonnie “Prince” Billy was written in the immediate aftermath of a romantic split. She uses timeless, elemental imagery—of outrunning the darkness, shaking off the cold—but briefly flashes back to the present to wonder whether an ex-lover ever Googles her name. Oldham’s keening croon is the perfect counterpoint for Webber’s melancholy vibrato, offering a gentle reminder that the future will find her “feeling a calm from time going round.” Like Semisonic taught us, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ashley Shadow - Only the End Music Album Reviews Ashley Shadow - Only the End Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 Rating: 5

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