Beyond the Pale by Welcome to Ashley

Vivek Nenmini

welcometoashley“All I really had was my talent. Without that I wouldn’t be welcome at the White House.” – Sammy Davis, Jr.

Chicago based, originally formed in Nashville, Welcome to Ashley (WTA) is plentifully talented. Soaring guitars (Pete Javier), taut old-school drumming (Sherrlia Bailey), effortlessly thumping everyone in line on bass (Jeremy Barrett) and a deep soulful voice (Coley Kennedy) keep you engaged throughout the thirty minute record Beyond the Pale. A follow up to their 2009 release Absent Man, Beyond the Pale is at once lyrically darker and with short and punchy tracks comes through as a record showcasing the bands musical influences of post-punk and new wave.

At first playing, they do sound much like The Smiths; Coley Kennedy’s vocals are quite uncannily reminiscent of Morrissey. But on a second (which eventually leads to more) and keener listening WTA promises more and move a couple of notches up on the ‘potential’ meter. What a Day It Was For Dying bleeds through as a morbid opener with dark, drug/alcohol fumes-enveloped lyrics. The gloomy undertones continue on Destination before they make a complete turn from dismal to cheerful in the upbeat Those Dreams of Mine. The Catbird Seat sets Pete’s guitar and Sherrlia’s drums pacing a fast conversation with Coley as they walk the streets of their adopted home, Chicago.

Gotta Get Back to You is a typical alt-country belter. My favourite I Love Monday Mornings is soulful with a cathartic refrain, ideal to get past those dreadfully blue hours. Light of Love is that quintessential pop-rocker which will get all the working youth’s heads bobbing in unison at the local pub. (If only the pub played more than the ubiquitous classic anthems. Sigh! I shall for now leave the rant against such pubs to a later piece.) From Monday mornings WTA proceed to the crisply arranged, intelligently written love ode- Thursday Afternoon and conclude with the haunting End of the Line.

In an interview to Rolling Stone a while back, Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin stated “There’s still incredible merit in making albums.” WTA’s Beyond the Pale, at once validates the pronouncement completely and is indeed incredible. With such powerful talent WTA could one day, if not sleep at the White House like Sammy Davis Jr. managed to, take centre stage at a show that can bring down the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

You can listen to Beyond the Pale in its entirety on their website.