Young song thrush Ashley Lilly has gradually eased herself to the forefront of The Songcatchers and this is even more apparent with the release of the band’s new CD Baby Blue Eyes on Friday, May 1, 2015.
Ashley describes what’s on offer, “It is pretty much a collection of traditional bluegrass songs with a few exceptions. However, we created a more modern take on them.”
“I was 14 when we recorded the songs,” admits Ashley, offering a counter-point to the clear indication that her vocals suggest someone a lot older. Her father says of the now-15 year old, “the recordings were made last summer but her voice seemed well beyond her years and so I felt we should move ahead and Ashley strongly wanted to do this as well. She selected most of the songs (in collaboration with me but I never said no to any song she suggested). And she actively participated in all of the arrangements and actually was the primary person in that regard.”
Judging by the nature of many of the recordings, Ashley has been given her head, taking some well-known songs and tweaking them in very subtle ways. Father Everett Alan Lilly volunteers, “She shows no hesitation to go with her strengths and instincts as evidenced by some changes in the melody she made with Grandpa Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days – originally done by the Judds – and the Louvin Brothers’ When I Stop Dreaming”. Of When I Stop Dreaming, Ashley adds, “I changed the melody just a little bit because that was my personal perspective on the song”.
The title track, Baby Blue Eyes, is another song that that is given a new treatment, “It was all Ashley’s idea to slow it down and, while I first had some reservations, I must say I really enjoyed doing it this way. Also different is that it is cranked up to a different key for the final chorus.” The arrangement is classic country – something that bluegrass fans are not always averse to.
“I have been going in some different directions musically” explains Ashley, and another example of creative thinking is apparent in the use of a piano on Paul Craft’s Teardrops Will Kiss the Morning Dew, originally recorded by the Osborne Brothers, who often took the expansive approach.
Indicative of her current direction, maybe, is Ashley’s choice to include a song from the world of pop music; (Maybe You) Shouldn’t Come Back which is on singer and former Disney actress Demi Lovato’s 2013 CD.
More in keeping with the bluegrass tradition are the arrangements of High on a Mountain Top and Little Georgia Rose.
Perhaps as a prelude to a Christmas album, Ashley chose a favorite of her mother’s Mary Did You Know, a song that she had been singing the song during their Christmas concerts.
The Songcatchers on the CD are Everett Alan Lilly (guitar), Bill Atkinson (baritone vocals), Daniel Gravley (rhythm guitar), Brian Taylor (acoustic bass), Jordan Young (mandolin) and Blaine Johnson (banjo).
And their friends are Steve Thomas, who has played fiddle with lots of great folks including Barbara Mandrell, Chris Stockwell, from the Rarely Herd bluegrass band, plays Dobro. Brandon Green plays banjo on a couple of cuts and Dan Bailey, who recorded the album at his Elmridge Studio, in Beckley, West Virginia, also plays guitar, mandolin and electric bass.
Atkinson and Everett Alan Lilly provide all of the vocal harmonies.
The album may be a small step, but for Ashley Lilly it is a step all the same.
Ashley has the last word, “I have been on several other recordings such as singing two songs on The Farthest Horizon CD by my friends, The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys (now called Sleepy Man). But this CD represents my first major project.”
To order the CD contact Everett Alan Lilly by E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (304-673-1389). The cost is $12.00, shipping charges are included. Payment in advance not necessary.