Ashley was introduced to
me via email by a mutual friend of ours, Larry Cole who is also
featured on the MKOC Horizon. Larry believed so much in Ashley's talent that he felt she
needed the exposure on MKOC and asked if I'd be willing to hear and review her material.
Since I think very highly of Larry as a person as well as a performer, I agreed. I can
honestly say, I'm not sorry.
From her first song on the 1998 CD release entitled,
"Somebody's Angel", I was a fan. As a rule, I don't care for "live"
albums.. I'd rather hear the artist than the crowd, but in this case, it was a real treat
to hear just how much Ashley's voice had matured in the one year. Her live CD, "Live
from Burlington Memorial Auditorium" really demonstrated her growth in talent as well
as her ease on the stage and her ability to work an audience. All that was missing was a
uncomfortable seat and popcorn because this CD clearly demonstrates her energy on stage
and the approval of her audience as she performed.
"Live from Burlington Memorial Auditorium"
has only one of Ashley's original songs, "Itty Bitty Heartache" and the rest are
cover tunes, but all very well done as you'll hear in the song samples below. My only
disappointment in this album was the use of 3 Shanai Twain songs. I won't harp on this as
every young female artist I've heard to date sings at least a few Shanai songs. I was more
intrigued with her interpretations of songs made famous by the "King" - Elvis
Presley, "The Teddy Bear Song" and "Unchained Melody", first made
famous by the Righteous Brothers.
Ashley does justice to all of these classic tunes and
what's more, I heard a definite improvement in her original song, "Itty Bitty
Heartache" as compared to the rendition of it on the "Somebody's Angel" CD.
I guess this could be chalked up to more than one factor, like production and sound
quality of the recordings, but there's no hiding the fact that Ashley has gained strength
vocally and no doubt, emotionally as you can sense her comfort with the music.
None of this is to "nay-say" her wonderful
album, "Somebody's Angel". It is filled with some wonderfully written songs,
several that were written or cowritten by Lonnie Ratliff and Carol Hashe only to mention a
few... but all songs were well chosen to fit Ashley and she brings them to life with ease.
My favorites are, as always, the ballads; "Mirror, Mirror", "Somebody's
Angel", "The Night Has No Mercy" and "Before You Turn Into A
Memory". Well done, writers and well done, Ashley. There's only 8 songs on this CD,
but they're all keepers, including the remake of Reba's "I'd Rather Ride Around With
You"... which actually sounds better coming from a teenager as it's a song created
for the young at heart.
Introduction at Live
(Opening for the Oak Ridge Boys)