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STEVE ASHLEY - Another Day

STEVE ASHLEY - Another Day
Market Square Music MSMCD180

There are certain writers that one gravitates towards to discover a balanced overview of their time – Tacitus, Pepys, Swift, Orwell etc. It is natural to include the unknown authors of ballads, bothy or broadsheet, in such a list. Steve Ashley belongs there, too. He has just proved that again.

His new album features 14 songs that reflect a turbulent period of our history when much of what we have come to know and expect has been turned on its head. These changes, as well as the hopes or fears they engender, are reflected throughout these songs. Steve is one of this country’s finest songwriters and the full range of his literary and musical skills is very much in evidence. Recorded with both precise warmth and intimate clarity, Steve’s accompaniment is no more than his own masterfully played guitar, with occasional harmonica and even more occasional whistle. Like the songs themselves, the settings, ostensibly austere, shine a revelatory light on optimistic possibility and consistent informed humour.

Steve is a man with an eye on the big picture. Before he ends we are reminded of our place in the enduring cycle of nature – The Months Go Round (one of the best songs he has ever written): the whole set is framed with two similarly entitled songs – the endless potential of new beginning (Another Day) and the gentle resignation of the one ultimate certainty (Another Shore).

That you will enjoy this album, I have no doubt – it will make you smile, sigh, laugh out loud, shed a tear - but most of all, and most importantly, it will make you think.

P.S. Speaking of Orwell, watch out for a witty name check in a very funny fragment of rhyming drama tucked away at the heart of the album – a totally unexpected and highly out-of-comfort-zone artistic triumph. It’s like opening the oyster and finding a diamond as well as the pearl.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.