Tag Archives: Jo Ash

Jo Ash : Here, Then & Somewhere Else, EP released 9 March 2021

The new EP from Jo Ash is five haunting tracks mainly featuring solo piano, a contrast to her song-based solo recordings and performances fronting rock band Derecho.

Opener ‘Petals’ starts hesitantly with a simply-stated theme that develops into a broad and echoing soundscape. Though threaded through with melancholy it calls to mind yearning for open landscapes and escape, especially when a vocal line adds to the texture. ‘Enchanted River’ is a more introspective keyboard study, flowing and cyclical with a calm gentleness laced with a bit of darkness.

Synthesisers are featured on ‘Innocence’, adding a full string sound before Jo’s voice soars above it all in a stately waltz. I particularly like the relaxed pastoral atmosphere of ‘Unspoken’; free of time and place. ‘Orion’s Quest’ evokes a blend of limitless journeys and mythology all leading to the famous constellation. It is an epic six minutes, again driven by a piano chord sequence that keeps returning as other sounds drift in and out. Jo’s voice weaves through the cosmos, culminating in a dramatic passage halfway through before the track drifts off into space. It is certainly a spectacular finale to the collection.

An innovative bonus to buying the EP – it comes with a free short story to add to the mystique…..

http://www.joashmusic.com

Derecho : Beneath A Stained Glass Sky, LP released November 2019 | cambridgemusicreviews

Jo Ash : Constellations, LP released October 2018 | cambridgemusicreviews

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Three Christmas Singles, released December 2020

Elma : Send Love This Christmas

From the introductory guitar footsteps in the snow and sleigh-bell beat there is no mistaking the intention of this gorgeous seasonal offering from Elma. Rhiannon’s pure and natural voice sets the scene ‘….it’s gonna feel strange to celebrate this year…. but I still think we should…’. and we soon get to the perfectly judged hookline ‘….send love this Christmas…it isn’t hard to do….and love will come right on back to you…’. Mark adds layers of ringing guitar lines and backing vocals to an uncluttered, retro and timeless mix. There is a winning middle-eight and by the end the duo have proved once again that their melodic command, vocal delivery and pop song construction is impeccable.

Elma (facebook.com)

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Jo Ash : Paper Cards

Jo Ash has created an atmospheric song drawing on images of lost battlefields, forgotten heroes and lingering memories. In her emotional tale of farewells she uses echoing, repeating piano figures and orchestral synthesisers to generate a tense, dramatic backing to her soaring vocals.

Lyrically and musically evoking a dark season, ‘…..look up to the diamond sky…..a blanket of a million miles….encompassing you and I….’,  but there is still hope ‘….I’ll never be too far from home….’. Finally there is reflection ‘….. I hear the words he said to me as I recall those winter nights…..as we made paper cards around the tree, and sang Silent Night….’.

So ideally sat in front of the fire with mulled wine in hand; slow down, hibernate and listen to this affecting track, contemplating the unchanging rhythms of the winter solstice.

Jo Ash Music

Paper Cards | Jo Ash (bandcamp.com)

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The Eli Lillies : Christmas is the Season of Love

A fun song with a serious message from singer/songwriter Louise Eatock, who usually performs in the indie-folk band Flaming June and now releases this single as a one-off with group The Eli Lillies.

The profits are going to mental health charities and the essence of the lyric is clear in an effort to remove the stigma of necessary treatment ; ‘…..’cause with the right medication…Christmas can be such a fun celebration…’.

Louise can always turn a neat phrase in her compositions and ‘……Christmas can be fun and I will show you how…so take a mood stabilizer for your breakfast….and an anti-anxiety tablet for tea……pop an anti-depressant when you open your presents….’ pulls no punches with a great balance of humour too. Musically it is a real treat, a sort of vigorous folk/punk mix up with crashing noise suddenly giving way to sleigh bells and 60s harmonies. Enjoy the celebratory energy of the video too!

Theelilillies

Christmas is the Season of Love | The Eli Lillies (bandcamp.com)

Derecho : Beneath A Stained Glass Sky, LP released November 2019

A track by track review of the new album ‘Beneath A Stained Glass Sky’ from four-piece rock band Derecho (a tornado that moves in a straight line)….

1. You Stole My Heart Starting with an accelerating drum call this opening salvo is a classic rocker. Singer and composer Jo Ash makes her presence felt with a powerful vocal, as the guitar slices in with organ backing and the big chorus is never too far away.

2. Red Ivy A gentle piano verse gives way to the surprising and dynamic chorus and it is all a bit dark (‘…so seduce me with your poison…’). I particularly like the instrumental interludes where the band have their chances to shine but Jo’s soaring voice is the centrepiece of the track.

3. Numb To Shame A bold statement of intent in the first few bars turns into a taut, twisting, mid-paced three minutes.

4. Fight or Flight Conjuring up the atmosphere of 80s metalpop classic ‘Run To The Hills’, this one moves quickly to its killer chorus. A waterfall of keyboard provides a brief soothing interlude.

5. Blue Heart An effective swampy blues re-working of a piano waltz from Jo Ash’s solo album (reviewed at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2018/10/14/jo-ash-constellations-lp-released-october-2018/)

6. Pushing Me Away The band really go for it on this one; a mixture of stealthy verse framed by sinister, echoing keys and building up into a soaring refrain as the drums steal the show.

7. Oxygen A dark lyric ‘…suffocate my mind…strip my lungs of air…‘ contrasts with a backing that rolls along deceptively uptempo and optimistic.

8. Nowhere Land (Into The Black Hole) Inspired by the film Interstellar this is one of the longest tracks on the album, a slow-burning, anthemic piece. Jo’s clear voice sails along in the upper registers as the music veers into prog-rock stylings, with a marching synthesised string section eventually unleashing the dark hordes of Mordor.

9. Lunar Light
The lyric combines poetic imagery with the idea that the Moon can influence a personality ‘….under the light, lunar light…….is this really you? madden my senses, make me pretend I’m safe….’ This song has a retro 70s glam-rock feel to it, the combination of piano/guitar riff with the theatricality of the words works a treat.

10. Mountains A bold, broad finishing track, giving plenty of time to set the mood with a recurring figure dominated by the bass end of the piano. Jo’s voice goes through a range of distortion, to an emotive chorus and back again.
Another showcase too for the other band members and the production; making key contributions to this excellent rock album.

(Album launch show is at the Blue Moon, Cambridge on Saturday 16th November…)

http://www.derecho.band/#home-1-section

Jo Ash : Constellations, LP released October 2018

Jo Ash is a singer and keyboard player from Ely, releasing her first LP of self-penned compositions. It is an album of introspection, intensity, imagination and above all of confident, well-structured song writing.

The first two tracks have a broad cosmological theme as referred to in the album title, with ‘Otherworldly’ a strong opener to the collection with its orchestral introduction before the acoustic piano and voice drive the song and lift its haunting chorus. Jo’s piano style is rich and compelling on many of these tracks, on ‘4D Journey’ it adorns a stealthy synthesiser bass pulse and another arresting chorus.
If the album generally tends towards slower tempos, in contrast the spirited ‘Story Behind Your Smile’ dances along briskly, ably supported by guesting guitar, bass and drums.

‘Adrift’ and ‘I See You’ are stately ballads where Jo gives full range to her clear, pure voice. ‘Her Eternity’ is a waltz led by some darker piano textures and tempo changes. ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ is a progrockish concoction with marching orchestra, spiky strings and a complex many-section arrangement.

‘Embers’ is a favourite of mine; with minimal piano and backing voices it still achieves a lush, emotive sound and it features one of Jo’s best vocals. ‘Blue Heart’ uses the repeating waltz rhythm of the echoing piano to great effect to counterpoint the abstract sentiments of the words.

For the final song a foreboding drum beat underpins a dark lyric musing on the inevitability of time passing and the idea that we only have ‘30,000 Days’ of life? The sombre chorus drives the song, ‘…here I am walking this Earth….’.
It is an unusual and haunting end to an impressive debut album.

http://joashmusic.com/