David Byrne once said that singing was a trick to get people to listen to music longer than they would ordinarily, Ashley Raines takes the opposite approach. Raines has a lot to say and he uses the mood of his music to emphasize each word.
Raines returns with his new album After The Bruising and mixes up his sound a little bit. His last record, One Trick Mule was littered with dominating bass lines that are now absent. Instead Raines opts for a smooth draping violin over his songs for the new record. He has some faster picking songs like “Momma Was A Catholic” and “You’re All In” but as usual, he shines on the slow burners. “Daddy Knows Best” and “Thinkin’ Bout Murder” catch him at his most patient on the album as the songs smolder like lights fading in the rear view mirror. The middle of the album is where the best meat is found; the haunting violin makes “Work Like A Devil” a clear highlight. With the lyrics “Ain’t got a leg on which to stand, I’m so poor I can’t even raise sand,” you can tell Raines’ whip-smart tongue is at its sharpest on the song.
Raines has an unwitting confidence that never keeps his voice from overcoming his cynicism. The lyrics are dark, really dark. Nick Drake and Vic Chesnutt dark but it is what Raines does and has always best. His lyrics are always the focus and the music sets the mood perfectly for them.
Key Tracks: “Work Like A Devil” “Thinkin’ Bout Murder” “After The Bruising” “What It Took”