As a general rule, we’re not in the habit of posting press releases. But it’s not every Monday morning that news on a new Ashley Monroe record shows up in our inbox, either. Here’s the pertinent album info, excerpted from a lengthier release from Tamara Saviano Media:
Pistol Annies’ Ashley Monroe releases solo CD Like A Rose
Digital release date December 18, 2012.
Drops at retail January 22, 2013.
Produced by Vince Gill and Justin Niebank.
All songs co-written by Monroe.
Ashley Monroe, a member of the critically acclaimed trio Pistol Annies, will release her first Warner Nashville solo album, Like A Rose, to digital outlets on December 18, 2012. The physical CD drops at retail January 22, 2013.
Despite her list of previous accomplishments, everything she’s done so far feels like it’s been pointing the way toward Like a Rose. With songs that run the gamut from feel-good to controversial to contemplative, the album, produced by country music titan Vince Gill, offers the full range of Ashley Monroe’s songwriting and performing skills. To maintain the honesty of Ashley’s songs, Gill and the singer chose to record the album the way most of the greatest albums ever were made: sans gimmickry. “We just got the band in a circle and started playing the songs,” Ashley says, “and once we felt like we had a feel for it, I’d do my vocal live—I never went back in to do a second vocal. Everyone put everything we had into the songs. There was a buzz in the room. We all had fun—it felt like a big old family, the way records used to be made.”
Some of the songs were newly written for the album; others date back several years and felt right to revisit. The semi-autobiographical title track, one of the uncontestable highlights of the set, was co-written about six years ago with another totem of the American song-crafting community, Texan legend Guy Clark.
One song that is bound to raise some eyebrows refers to the same favored flower of the title tune, but in a much different sense: “Weed Instead of Roses” tells of a woman’s desire to get a gift she actually desires from her beau, not just something that smells good.
“You Got Me,” co-written by Monroe and Karen Fairchild. Says Ashley, “It’s about an addiction to something—one thing or another, whether you’re stuck in a bad relationship or alcohol or whatever it is—and you try to hide it and fight it but you’re kind of saying, ‘Alright, you got me.’
On a more light-hearted note is “Monroe Suede,” based on “a slick character that tries to get away all the time.” Another is the self-explanatory “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter),” a duet featuring CMA Entertainer of the Year Blake Shelton. “Morning After” confronts that uneasy feeling that often follows a too-good time and “She’s Driving Me Out Of Your Mind,” written with Jon Randall Stewart, comes straight from one of Ashley’s many journals. “Two Weeks Late” was suggested by singer-songwriter Shane McAnally, who co-wrote it with Monroe. “He came in and said, ‘I heard this phrase at the ATM: I’m a dollar short and two weeks late.’ That was another one that just fell out. I grabbed the guitar and we started writing it up.
“Used,” another standout, is an update of a song that appeared on Monroe’s Satisfied album. “It came to me when I was about 17 and my manager at the time had just bought me this old 1950s Gibson guitar,” she says. It came into my mind that things are worth more used, and I thought about my mom, who had lost my dad when she was 38. I was thinking, she had two kids, she’s been through a lot, and, bless her heart, it’s all gonna be worth it. Vince and I worked up this new version, which made it fresh for me.”
And fresh it all is. Like a Rose avoids the trappings of too much contemporary music by sticking to the basics: memorable songs, incredible musicians, a superb voice, all of it captured honestly and without frills. As the saying goes, sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses. Take a whiff of Like a Rose and you’ll find it smells pretty darn sweet.
As posted earlier this month, you can hear the album’s title track here.