Ashley Monroe and Vince Gill (who produced Monroe’s upcoming album Like A Rose) gave a preview of the project for several industry members on Monday (Jan. 14) at Jim McGuire‘s photo studio in Nashville. McGuire has taken the portraits of numerous Nashville celebrities, including Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins and numerous others.
Monroe’s manager John Grady (Crush Management) and Warner Music Nashville’s Peter Strickland hosted the event, welcoming Monroe and Gill to play all of the tracks from the upcoming album. Monroe (who is also part of the trio Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley) possesses a soulful, twang-drenched voice that easily draws comparisons to Lee Ann Womack and Dolly Parton, along with the knife-sharp songwriting that comes from someone who has been writing and singing for over half of her life. The camaraderie between the Knoxville native and her producer comes naturally; Monroe has been co-writing with Gill for over a decade, even before Monroe had a driver’s license.
They kicked off the evening with “Two Weeks Late,” a rollicking tune that showcases Monroe’s sharp wit. Another rocker, “Monroe Suede,” highlighted her ace storytelling skills. Gill offered high praise for the singer-songwriter throughout the evening, comparing the work on Like A Rose and Monroe’s traditional leanings in the midst of a rock-oriented country music landscape to that of Emmylou Harris. “Emmylou in a sense was that person. If you analyzed what country was doing in the ’70s, it wasn’t traditional,” said Gill. “She reclaimed some traditional spirit again in country music. I think this record of Ashley’s has the same opportunity. It’s honest.” Sharing a bit of advice he got from music publisher Fred Foster about producing an artist project, Gill added, “You have to go frame the picture.” And that’s exactly what Gill has done with this album.
Another highlight from the album is “Mornin’ After,” which Monroe penned when she was 17. The track features a vintage ‘tic tac’ bass doubling which sounds similar to a kickdrum. They followed the ballad with “Used,” a song Monroe penned after musing how many things, such as guitars, vintage clothing–and ultimately people–are better with some history behind them.
The title track, co-written with Guy Clark and Jon Randall, is a semi-autobiographical track detailing Monroe’s challenging teenage years, the loss of her father when she was 13, and her determination to rise above them. “You Got Me” features background vocals from Little Big Town and was co-written with LBT’s Karen Fairchild.
Like A Rose is slated for release March 5.
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