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Greg Ashley seems a bit vexed out about something. I'm not sure what, I mean he's got his record deal with Trouble In Mind and he seems to have a lot of friends who want to play with him but still, something's just not right.
He's telling us all about it on his new album 'Another Generation of Slaves' which imbues his Leonard Cohen-meets-Berlin-era-Lou Reed songsmithery with the buoyant demeanour of Jason Molina's solo albums. Sure, there are occasional moments of bar band boogie on numbers like second track 'Brother Raymond' (which seems pedestrian until it morphs into a super bit of a clarinet and piano) but as the album progresses Ashley seems to get more and more downtrodden and pessimistic.
"You make me feel like shit, I wanna kill myself, I wanna kill myself" says the refrain of 'Awkward Affections', repeated ad nauseam over a drooping indie-blues backdrop of weeping organ and plaintively plucked guitar. "Yesterday's a cruel joke and sex is still the easiest conversation" opines 'Bruises', "I don't wanna walk you home, I'd rather spend the night alone...but I'll always love the way you sing a sad song" he sings to the tune of 'I Walk The Line' in 'Misery Again' (which sees some more of that clarinet which I'm enjoying very much because it reminds me of children's music I was played as a child but couldn't name now), "You've traded your dignity, your sanity, for good times you can't recall anyway" he laments in 'Patterns of Days'...but all is not lost.Perhaps if enough of you buy his album he'll cheer up.
By the end of the record it's starting to feel almost like an homage to the likes of Cohen and Callahan, well observed, uniformly sad old-fashioned studio pop, competent but sometimes a little bit monotonous and often a bit of a bummer. If you like smoky bar-room hang-doggerel full of bluesy piano and clarinet and the occasional really cool New Orleansy sounding bit, that's what you'll get here. Not the psychedelic fun I had hoped for from this label but it's okay.
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