A reliable traditionalist with a penchant for bittersweet songs of heartbreak and loss, Ashley Monroe pulled a complete 180 for her spectacular new album, Rosegold, riding the joyful emotional wave that followed the birth of her son to create her most ecstatic, blissed-out collection yet.
Written and recorded over the past two years, the record finds the GRAMMY-nominated Nashville star pushing her sound in bold new directions, drawing on everything from Kanye West and Kid Cudi to Beck and The Beach Boys as she layers lush vocal harmonies atop dreamy, synthesized soundscapes and sensual, intoxicating beats. Monroe worked with a variety of producers on the album, letting the tracks dictate her direction rather than any arbitrary adherence to genre or tradition, and the result is a record as daring as it is rewarding, an ecstatic, revelatory meditation on happiness and gratitude that tosses expectation to the wind as it celebrates our endless capacity to love, and to be loved, even in the midst of chaos and tragedy.
Born in Knoxville, TN, Monroe first began turning heads in Nashville as a teenager, when she arrived in town with a notebook full of mature, emotionally sophisticated songs that belied her young age. A jack-of-all-trades, she picked up work behind the scenes at first, singing on sessions at Jack White's Third Man Studios and penning tunes that would appear on albums by the likes of Guy Clark, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, and Miranda Lambert. Monroe and Lambert forged a close personal bond through their collaborations, and in 2011, they teamed up with fellow Nashville journey woman Angaleena Presley to launch the critically acclaimed trio Pistol Annies, which would go on to top the Country Album charts, crack the Top 5 on the Billboard 200, and earn a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Album.
Monroe's solo output was equally lauded, with NPR hailing her work as "subtle and breathtaking" and Rolling Stone praising her writing as "riveting [and] sharp-witted." Over the course of three studio albums, Monroe would land her own GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Album, share bills with the likes of Vince Gill and John Prine, and perform everywhere from The Tonight Show and Conan to Late Night and The View.
Rosegold contains glimmers of residual warmth, especially in its enveloping harmonies, but its surfaces are brushed, not burnished. Guitars are buried or processed to the point that they're a faint echo, and skittering rhythms are pushed to the forefront as they balance a wash of synthesizers and pianos, a blend that owes much more to mature pop than it does country.... Monroe doesn't indulge in any retro-fantasias on Rosegold. Everything from the sonics to the songs is immediate, existing in a hyper-aware present. The lack of instrumental country accouterments heightens the album's stylized spaciness; it's not earthbound, it floats upon a breeze. Sometimes, Rosegold threatens to drift away yet it's never threadbare: It's a singular mood piece, one that suits a spell of twilight reflection.
- Vinyl LP
- Gatefold jacket
- 'Til It Breaks
- I Mean It
- The New Me