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Wednesday, October 27th, 2021  

Ashley Monroe

Rosegold

Self-Released

May 03, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Ashley Monroe is a twice Grammy nominated country artist (both solo and as a member of Pistol Annies), but on Rosegold she gives up a steady backbeat in favor of breakbeats and drops. Monroe is noted for her vocal prowess, and that no doubt carries over to Rosegold, but the migration from honky-tonk dancehall to bedroom pop to the nightclub floor yields a mixed bag of results. Part of the issue stems from working with six different producers across 10 tracks, most of whom are cited for their country music pedigrees. Being out of her usual element and working with a variety of collaborators out of their own seems a daunting attempt, but one that does have its successes.

Standing head and shoulders above the rest of the album, the three tracks produced by Mikey Reaves are more than solid efforts. Perhaps there’s a reason Reaves got the nod for nearly a third of the album. The most compelling of the trio of tracks being “Drive,” which matches up a bass heavy atmospheric pulse, Monroe’s breathy vocals, and an openly sexual lyric. The later reggae-tinged “Groove” somehow succeeds in being catchy even with layers of strings coming in on top of the syncopated beat. And the opener, “Siren,” carries with it a promise that maybe the album as a whole could succeed.

Unfortunately, “Siren” is immediately followed by the softly focused “Silk,” which falls somewhere between the blandness of modern praise and worship music and a mid-tier Disney soundtrack cut. The transition between the songs is jarring and the other Jordan Reynolds-produced track, “Flying,” is similarly out of sorts wedged between “Drive” and “Groove.” But the most telling spot where it becomes apparent that Monroe may be working with the wrong crew is in the opening notes of “I Mean It,” where the anticipation of the song’s opening drop gives way to the equivalent to air being let out of the balloon vs. the promise of a confetti cannon’s let’s get this party started vibe.

Certainly, Monroe has earned the right and has the credibility to step outside of her usual box to self-release any type of music she likes. And she has the vocal range and command to pull most anything off. If more focused, and either working exclusively with Reaves or someone outside the Nashville inner circle, Rosegold could have had more of a chance to shine as a unified release. As it is, there are a handful of worthwhile singles worth mining, but unlike Monroe’s work to date, as a whole the album doesn’t coalesce as it could have. (www.ashleymonroe.com)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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