“Times aren't changing but I am.”
That is the declaration, or even realization that fueled singer-songwriter Ashley Riley's upcoming release, Through the Thin. The 13-song collection, due out April 8, 2016, finds Riley a bit stronger and wiser than before, her down-to-the-bone vulnerability wrapped up in a cozy, warm blanket. The gritty, rootsy moments that garnered favorable comparisons to Patty Griffin and Stevie Nicks remain, backed by lush instrumentation that incorporates genres such as indie rock and pop into her folk niche. “This album really encompasses everything that I do, from the really slow ballads to full on rock songs,” says Riley. The album is rife with songs about holding on and letting go, giving in and giving up, and the peace that comes from coming out on the other side.
The recording of Through the Thin began in spring of 2014 when Riley and the band participated in a program at The Blackbird Academy in Nashville for future recording engineers. There, they were recorded by the students who were instructed by teachers at the school. “We were pretty ambitious with that class and took five songs to track and we ended up with four that made the cut for the album,” says Riley. “The rest of the potential album tracks—which totaled 22 by the time we’d finished—were recorded here at home in Decatur in the fall and winter of 2015 by Matt Comerford (bass player in the band) and produced by myself and the band. Of those 22, 13 made the cut for the album.” Joining Riley and Comerford in the studio were Tyler Bundy (lead guitar) and Ian Grindstaff (drums).
Riley has been a staple in the music scene of her hometown Decatur, IL, where she got her start hosting open mics in 2008, helping to revitalize and nurture the underground singer-songwriter scene in town. After starting as an acoustic-based songwriter on her first record, Riley realized by her second album that her songs begged for a band, and her next two albums got the full band treatment, to glowing reviews. New Noise Magazinecalled her “one of the best obscure female artists I've heard in, well, ever,” and InForty.com declared her a “female songstress everyone would be wise to spend time with.” Women of Substance Radio noted: “Ashley's songs have an ethereal and delicate quality... Her reverence for Americana artists like Neil Young and Patty Griffin is unmistakable. She pens lyrics that are unsettling and sometimes even disturbing, as all good lyrics should be.” Illinois Entertainer trumpeted: “Make no mistake, Ashley Riley has an utterly gorgeous voice and a sound all her own.” Seven of the nine songs on her third album, All the Pretty Things, can be heard in rotation on Starbucks in-store airplay. Bridging the gap between All The Pretty Things in early 2014 and the forthcoming album, Riley released a single and video, “See You Around,” later in 2014. (The track was recorded as part of the recording session at The Blackbird Academy in Nashville.)
Her latest offering, Through the Thin, showcases her signature delicate-then-soaring vocals and clever storytelling. Riley is able to build an intimacy with the listener, inviting them into the songs and on a journey through the thin with her.
Past press praise for Ashley Riley:
“The instant you first hear Ashley Riley’s intoxicatingly sweet vocals and catch the tinge of a delicate warble that colors her tone, you are drawn to them just as you would be attracted to any object of beauty. However, it’s the slight traces of earthy grit around the edges offering shades of intrigue that ultimately pull you in deeply and rivet your attention. On her latest offering, All The Pretty Things, the sparse arrangements allow her voice to effortlessly hold sway over the music and the result is an intensely captivating album of intimate expressions.” - AXS.com
“All The Pretty Things is engaging stuff, both rootsy and soft, as Riley provokes with complicated, though gently offered, lines. ...Those who enjoy complex singer-songwriters will find Riley's distinct voice rewarding.” - Knoxville News-Sentinel
“Ashley’s album is... a gorgeous collection of nine beautifully crafted songs that encompasses all that is valued in the folk/rock/acoustic scene. Added to her exquisite vocals, Ashley shows she’s no mean song writer in both lyrical content and melody construction. ...Straight from the acoustic opener ‘Made of Dreams’ through to the tranquil closer ‘Lie To Me’, where Ashley shows she’s the master of the slow song, Americana fans will drool over the enchanting quality.” - Three Chords and the Truth
“With a voice and style somewhere between Jewel and Martina McBride, Riley sings wistfully and invites us into the soft world she has created.” - Innocent Words Magazine