Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters
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When writing about a CD, I dislike comparing voices and arrangements to those of others—while it provides context, it seems lazy. (Not that I won’t make those comparisons…it just really dislike doing it.) After all, how many folks can have the airy ethereal qualities of Emmylou Harris, the gritty troubadour authenticity of Steve Earle, and the hardcore poetic elegance of Townes Van Zandt?
Fortunately, in the advance material for Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters debut album, their PR scribe drops references to The Rolling Stones, T. Rex, and T-Bone…Walker, I’m guessing. I’m taking that as permission to launch a few names of my own.
Ashleigh Flynn has been making music for quite awhile, although I’ve only previously encountered one of the Kentuckian’s albums, A Million Stars of 2013. That set was full-blown, swinging ‘radio show’ country, the kind of retro music that inhabits a fair-narrow path within the wider Americana fold. That album was further highlighted by “How The West Was Won,” a rockin’ Calamity Jane song I wrote about previously and which sounds like a precursor to what Flynn has elected to record with the up-tempo Riveters.
Based in Oregon, Flynn has established a new outfit of musical partners. We should be far beyond comparing this roots rock extravaganza to the excitement felt upon hearing Beauty and the Beat almost forty (!!) years ago, but I am not. There aren’t too many exclusively female lineups within the roots world outside of bluegrass—Della Mae and Sister Sadie come to mind—and so by their very existence Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters are noteworthy. In an entirely different way, they are as musically thrilling as the Go-Go’s.
Off the top, it is apparent Ashleigh Flynn is a terrific singer, reminding one of Zoe Muth. Supercharged Americana roots rock, Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters pour fifty years of rock and roll nuggets into these ten easy to appreciate songs, placing wee aural Easter eggs—premeditated or not—of musical tribute throughout. “Shrouded Sun” could be an interpretation of a Bobbie Gentry b-side, and “Fly Away” a long-lost cut from Mother Earth.
Singing from a position of strength, but with a “cold black line running down the center of her heart,” Flynn isn’t necessarily giving up on love, but she may just be getting ready to swear off her current affection. No matter the subject matter, songs like “Cold Black Line” suggest that Flynn is in the driver’s seat.
Punctuated by hand claps and a soaring melody, Flynn and The Riveters explore Long Ryders jingle-jangle paisley-flavoured country-rock on “Too Close To The Sun,” the album’s defining song. In the time between Here and Then, Dale Ann Bradley reaching for her Bobby McGee comes to mind within “The Sound of Bells,” a strong yearnsome song.
And just to run all allusions to ground, I’m hearing Bad Company (think “Shooting Star” and “Burnin’ Sky”) during “One Moment,” featuring “shredderific” guitar licks from Nancy Duca, while there is more than a bit of “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” coursing through the assured declarative “You Will Remember.” “Big Hat, No Cattle” allows a fellow some deserved self-deprecation. The power battery of Julie Clausen (drums) and Carmen Paradise (bass) lay out assured grooves.
All of which accumulates into an amazingly creative and original juxtaposition of rock, country, vigour, and sass. Ashley Flynn & The Riveters make…wait for it…riveting roots rock!
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