She's known mostly in country music as one third of the Pistol Annies, but Ashley Monroe goes solo this time with "Like A Rose." Is she strong enough to stand on her own? Absolutely.
Produced by Vince Gill and Justin Niebank, it's traditional country at its finest. The nine songs on this album, in which she co-wrote on all of them, take on an autobiographical tone. It starts out with a bang on the the title track. She sings, "I was only 13 when Daddy died." But with a sweet yet guarded delivery, she escapes the hard knock life she was destined to live.
And the story-telling doesn't stop there. There are several woven throughout. "The Morning After" likens a bad break-up to feeling like a hangover. "Two Weeks Late" is about a single mom who can't pay the rent after her man runs off. A familiar tale in country music, but she makes it fresh and new. "Monroe Suede" is a honky-tonk song that's fun to sing to at top volume... "Momma still plays piano in the same ol' church / Helpin' them sinners get saved / Daddy died drunk, left us all in a lurch / And they call me Monroe Suede."
"She's Driving Me Out of Your Mind" is a favorite of mine with clever lyrics and a great vocal. It is creative, contemporary and a classic. "Don't know where I'm going but I'm gettin' there fast / Looking in your eyes I see her future and my past." Would have been a huge hit back in the 80's or 90's.
Another favorite is "Weed Instead of Roses." It's a plea to her partner in an attempt to spice up the relationship. Skip the ol' stand-by, let's get a little wild. "I ain't getting any younger, oh but you don't seem to care / Let's trade in the boxers for some sexy underwear."
To wrap the whole album up, a duet with none other than Blake Shelton. Oh, they are a great match together on "You Ain't Dolly (And You Ain't Porter)". They play off each other really well. It is straight up old country.
My only complaint is that the album is too short with only nine songs. I respect not having any filler however. I'll just keep it on repeat (it's that good!) I look forward to hearing a lot more from her.