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Ashley Wilson: Paint The Sky

Andrew J. Sammut By

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Ashley Wilson's debut recording features the vocalist and songwriter singing eleven original tunes, incorporating a range of genres and mining a lot of her own experiences. "Once In A While" starts the album with a flirty tune about fighting and then making up, set to a rising and chromatically falling theme. Bitter chords amidst the country twang of "Fool" illustrate that unfaithfulness is never easy, and pointed lyrics about being in love for five years hint at a biographical element. "Wish I'd Learned" has a wistful 50s R&B feel and makes room for some charming scat by Wilson.

Wilson sings with a medium dark tone with brighter edges at its top, plainspoken phrasing, and clear diction. Her voice acquires some grit over the brooding solo bass introduction on her rebuff to romantic ultimatums "Now Or Never," then opens up into a lighter feel and cooler narration before an abrupt, eye-winking end. The melodies are frequently catchy, with subtle effects like the questioning curve of the dreamy title track or the undulating "If I Knew."

Despite influences from jazz, country, pop, and other genres, Wilson's naturalness and experience consistently color these songs, marking her firmly within the singer/songwriter tradition. Her ode to the joys of giving into a carefree dalliance "Sweet Temptation," with its backbeat and goading organ, could have gotten a little too personal but Wilson makes things fun as well as forbidden. The triple meter, Americana-infused waltz down memory lane "I'm Having Dreams" features a telling repetition of the line "why I write this song."

"Holding Out Hope" features more sincere lyrics, this time about self-doubt, set to a light medium-tempo groove. The San Francisco-based vocalist put her musical ambitions on hold for several years, so there is likely deeper significance to this song and this project. Producer, pianist, and mentor Art Khu assembled the Bay Area musicians accompanying Wilson with straightforward, effective arrangements. Paint The Sky is a deeply personal and earnestly crafted effort by this young singer.

Track Listing: Once In A While; Paint The Sky; Fool; Sweet Temptation; Wish I'd Learned; Now Or Never; Can't Love You; Holding Out Hope; I'm Having Dreams; FairyTale; If I Knew.

Personnel: Ashley Wilson: vocal; various musicians: guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums.

Title: Paint The Sky | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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