Ashley Raines has spent years spinning tales of the downtrodden. On his latest release he uses his semi-rotating cast of the New West Revue to deliver a similar message with a very different sound. His last record “It Could Be Worse” found him dabbling with some keyboards and horns, now he has taken that direction a step further.
The result is a rather elegant solution to his songs being quiet and heavy to digest. Possibly influenced by the influx of jazz in the Kansas City area of late, Raines and cowriter Vanessa Aricco use a mix of organ and horns to give the songs more variance and bounce making them more dynamic from one another. The subject matter is still rather brooding and ominous as Raines’ music tends to be. On songs like “I’m Afraid of People” he spits lines like “All my friends are strangers” and on “Let’s Be Alone Together” he croons “our kingdoms are just ruins rich in time.” There is a short piano ballad in “When All The World Hated Me” and a bouncy walking bass line fuels “Get Yourself Together” just adding to the deviations in the songs on this effort. The album ends with the acoustic plucking of “Tired of the Scene” where Raines delivers the song with the gentle touch of a love ballad but biting lyrics like “I’m tired of the scene and the scene is tired of me” backing up the album’s narrative of isolation and adjusting to a changing world.
His bleak lyrics continue to be as good as ever but it’s easy to see an improvement in the sound of his records. Musically, Raines continues to grow and mine his poignant mind for lyrical pay dirt.
Key Tracks: “Let’s Be Alone Together” “I’m Afraid of People” “Tired of the Scene”