If there is an album to prove that women in country music should not be overlooked then it’s The Lonely One by Ashley Campbell. An album full of Ashley’s personal experiences including struggles of loneliness, failed relationships and then finding strength, Ashley has just about related to every person on the planet.
Ashley’s talents are beyond measurable – her wicked banjo playing skills leave you in awe, her vocals are sweeter than sweets but her talents as a songwriter really up the scale. Ashley captures real life experiences perfectly in her writing, making her words painfully honest and engaging, truly connecting her experiences with the listener.
I LOVE this album and haven’t stopped playing it since I received it. In a genre where so many albums emerge on a weekly basis it isn’t always easy to have one really stick out but The Lonely One does – album of the year for us? It is certainly going to be a contender.
Ashley released the lead single A New Year last year just in time for all the Christmas festivities and literally from the very first note I said to myself “Ok, so this song is gonna be good” and I was happily correct.
A New Year kick starts the album and gives you a very good indication of what to expect from the rest of the album and it is one of those cases where the single that you love isn’t even the best track off the album. In fact there are so many good un’s that I do keep changing my mind, however, one that really resonates with me is Good For You. Good For You is one of the most beautiful songs that I have heard in a while and I keep finding myself putting the song on repeat when I am driving. Good For You is a song about letting someone you love go so that in some ways, you can be selfish and go out into the world to do your own thing but then you see them years later happily married and feel a sense of regret in that moment. This song shows a really stunning tone to Ashley’s vocal which is really quite captivating. The verses are painfully emotive and I really feel every word she sings and believe it. The chorus is justifying her actions and how they were so young when they were together and as I said above, needing to venture off to find yourself.
We were never getting married at eighteen
Tellin’ stories to our grandkids of how we met
I was wantin’ you just wasn’t wanting your dream
Afraid to give up on all the things I hadn’t found yet
I had to do some things for me
The hardest thing was finding strength to leave
I’d be the last one to wish it’s true
But the first to say she’s good for you
Another favourite is the comedic and quirky Better Boyfriend. The lyrics are wonderfully clever and the song is very tongue and cheek about all the things she could do if she was her boyfriend. Better Boyfriend is a feel good, up beat tune which gets you in a kick ass, “I won’t feel sorry for myself” kind of mood.
And Like a ninja fighter, I even killed a spider
In the bathroom with the bottom of my shoe
Ashley’s latest single is title track The Lonely One and what a song it is. The Lonely One is very different sonically from the rest of the album. The single has a Mexican Country style to it and it is very infectious. This is a feel good tune for any woman or man who has been wronged and has left their ex wonderin’ what they are up to without them. I can see why this was selected as a single, it’s exciting, old fashioned yet modern and Ashley’s sweet souled vocals give it that something extra.
Wish I Wanted To is all kinds of beautiful. A gorgeous ballad with a heavenly melody which is stunning in its simplicity. The moment I heard this song I instantly thought of Mindy Smith. With both Ashley and Mindy having soft, angelic vocals, this song could easily have been hers and just shows the diversity in Ashley’s songwriting and song stylings and how her music will likely appeal to a wide variety of audiences.
Ashley teams up with her Godfather Carl Jackson on the bluegrass instrumental Carl & Ashley’s Breakdown. This is an instrumental you do not want to skip and has such an impact that you find yourself itching to hear it live. With Ashley’s incredible banjo picking talents, this song truly showcases that and it has such a powerful force that in a live setting, I can imagine the crowd cheering incredibly loudly. This is one of those moments that stops you in your tracks and makes you truly appreciate music and the gift of the musical instrument. The music is written by Ashley and Carl with Ashley playing Banjo, Carl on Acoustic Guitar and they are joined on the instrumental with her brother Cal Campbell on drums, Eli Bishop on Violin, Bryan Sutton on Acoustic Guitar, Sam West on Bass and Will Carter on Dobro.
How Do You Know is quite an up beat tune which is instrumentally brilliant. The lyrics are somewhat simple but in a really clever and fun way. The energy to this song is gratifyingly good and again is one of those songs that you just know will be killer live.
Cry has more of a dark, western side to with a sharp banjo edge throughout. The song shows a stronger, more angry side to Ashley’s vocal which I love as she has such a gentle vocal usually that to hear more attitude in her voice is really fulfilling and gives the album a more well rounded mix of emotions – regret, sadness, loneliness, revenge, sweetness and attitude.
A Taken Man is a delightful song melodically but lyrically it’s really quite sad about making your bed and lying in it. The lyrics are from the perspective of the mistress to a taken man knowing he was taken and facing rejection when he doesn’t want to be with her.
What I’m Doin’ Here is almost a more explanatory version of Little Big Town’s Girl Crush. The two songs are in no way similar apart from the subjects slightly. Ashley’s lyrics again are incredibly relatable to any person who has had somewhat of an obsession with someone who is with the person they want to be with. The words speak of fixation, comparison and curiosity which inevitably will only end in pain.
We Can’t Be Friends is such an exciting and fresh sounding tune with a bit of soul behind it. The brass instrument involvement makes it a really big song and something you can expect to hear on not just country radio but mainstream and particularly in the UK, this song screams Radio 2. Despite its slightly emotive lyrics, it comes across as a really happy song sonically and all I want to do is dance around the living room with the song on full blast.
Looks Like Time is a great revenge song but in a self inflicted kind of way (Sit back, relax, do nothin’ as time is gonna kick your ass). The feel good “Man, what was I thinking?” tune is like poetic justice. One of the best feelings after a break up is seeing them years later a complete wreck. Ashley sings about the man who left her saying she was holding him back only for him to do nothing but drink, ageing him badly, time has sure kicked his ass.
Nothing Day is probably the sweetest song on the album and a really beautiful way to close the entire record. Starting off with the lyric I’ve seen the sun rise over London made me, as a Brit, really want to listen to the lyrics.
A nice happy end to an emotionally gorgeous album, taking us through the emotional rollercoaster journey Ashley rode to deliver this wonderful masterpiece.
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