Ashley Monroe Cuts Through the Rest on “The Blade” – Album Review

One of the albums that I was most looking forward to this summer was Ashley Monroe’s “The Blade”. I had wanted to write a review of the album but didn’t get a chance to, so this is coming a little late. But I still wanted to review because it has consistently been the album I keep coming back to since its release in July.

I also had the chance to see Ashley open for Little Big Town in September at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, so I am incorporating that experience here. Her set list was heavy on new songs which was a pleasant surprise. She most likely would not have done that if the show had happened in June when it was originally scheduled.

The audience didn’t seem too familiar with Ashley’s songs and I guess that might be because she doesn’t have a lot of radio hits. But if you’re a true country music fan then I think you’ll appreciate Ashley Monroe for what she stands for. She is an amazing songwriter and singer. When listening to her songs you can tell she is a country music fan as well and infuses her influences into her music by her ability to make banjos and fiddles sound fresh. The Greek is an outside amphitheater and it was hot as hell that day/night. But as I sat there listening I couldn’t help but think “now THIS is the country music experience!”

The first single was “On to Something Good”, an upbeat song about being happy and not getting weighed down. The message is don’t take yourself too serious and just keep movin’ on. Before performing the song at the concert she stated this is the one “happy” song she released this year. She’s right, the rest of “The Blade” album is definitely a lot less poppy than this single and at times is full of a lot of heartache.

“I Buried Your Love Alive” is another stand out track on the album. It’s about trying to forget a former love and has a nice mid-tempo swagger to it.

“Bombshell” says “it’ll never be a good time to drop a bombshell”. She wants to break with someone but she bring herself to do it and in contemplating realizes there is no “good” time to do.

“The Blade” is the crown jewel on the whole album. Although not penned by Ashley herself, she still took command on this one and sings it as if its one of her own. On the flip side, the narrator is the one who is still in love with someone who isn’t in love with them. My favorite lyric is:

That’s the risk you run when you love, when you love
And you give it all you’ve got to give
Knowing all along there’s a chance, there’s a chance
You’ll reach and they won’t
You’ll bleed and they don’t

Its a very beautifully composed song and there is a video of Ashley singing it acoustically online that’s actually even better than the album version with the full band.

“If the Devil Don’t Want Me” is a haunting, classic country song that comes off just as well live as it does on the album. This line says it all:

I’ve heard stories ’bout honky tonk angels
Picking up pieces of broken strangers
I’m at rock bottom with a smoke and a sin
When the party is over, then I’m lonely again

Other stand out tracks on the album are “Dixie” and “Mayflowers”. The harmony the chorus on “Mayflowers” sounds like Fleetwood Mac, which I think is why the song eventually grew on me.

I pretty much love everything Ashley Monroe does, whether its her solo records, the Pistol Annies or other artists are recording her songs that are featured on shows like Nashville. She always comes out like a rose!