The Mill 185, West Boylston, MA
December 15, 2016
I last (and first) saw Ashley Jordan perform live in August after hearing repeatedly from locals inside and outside the music industry about her amazing talent. I reviewed her new CD He’s Crazy a month later. And on this particular night, an evening with an early start out here in the outer suburbs — practically in Worcester, actually — from one of New England’s finest singers was just the tonic for a Thursday night toward the end of a long work week. This was, I think, Ashley’s first local gig since her trip to the NashNext finals in Nashville in October. It was also a chance to hear Ashley joined by drummer Frank Pupillo; when I caught her set in August, she was performing solo, so this was an interesting added element to the performance.
One of these days, if talent and skill are rewarded, and because I know she has the fortitude and drive to take advantage of the opportunities presented to her, I’ll get to see Ashley headlining a stadium tour. Of course, success in the music business is always a bit of a crapshoot, but Ashley Jordan is playing with loaded dice. So, for now, it’s nice to get to see one of country music’s premier young talents at a club show in small-town Massachusetts.
This was a bit of an odd gig. I love the room — I hadn’t been to The Mill 185 before — but one chunk of the audience was an office Christmas party, and it made for an interesting vibe. Great chance for them to get to hear such a talented singer, and it was clear they were enjoying it, as were the rest of us in the room.
As often is the case, I didn’t seek out a set list, and you already know I haven’t listened to country radio much in the last decade, so I may get both originals I haven’t heard and cover song titles wrong, but I’ll give it a shot. I walked in during what I believe was the first song of the evening, unless she started early, to the strains of “A Little Time.” If, indeed, it was the first song, it was a great way to start the evening. She followed it with her power-acoustic-guitar-driven original “Drink Some Whiskey.”
Ashley then launched into the first song of the evening from her new album, He’s Crazy — one of my favorites from the disc, “Blue Eyed Boy.” She captured the emotion of the song exceptionally well, as usual. And then she followed it with a song that unleashed a lot of anger; “I Don’t Know You Anymore,” I believe.
Next, Ashley launched into her cover of KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” I love how she performs this particular cover; it shares a bit of a rockin’ growl edge she’s able to call upon, showcasing her versatility to perform at the rock end of the country spectrum; it’s a capability she shows during a few of her originals, too, but something about this cover really captures it well.
Then came the emotional “So Far Gone,” an original made all the more poignant by Ashley’s well-considered lyrics. It was followed by a strong, dynamic vocal performance during a cover of Maren Morris’ “My Church.”
Next up, Ashley unleashed some booming vocals during her “Coming Home” cover. And she closed the set just as dynamically with a rousing rendition of “He’s Crazy,” the title track from her new CD. On this night, she delivered it with a particularly emphatic guitar line supporting her always-strong vocals.
The evening continued much longer, of course, but I was just there for the first set, leaving early in the second. Glad I spotted this gig — catching a little Ashley Jordan music early enough for me to get back home and get up for work the next day was the perfect way to spend a Thursday evening. And it was an opportunity to check out this venue and sample a bit of its menu. Pretty sure I’ll be back here, as well, next time I have a chance.
If you haven’t seen Ashley Jordan live, keep an eye on the tour page of her website and on her Facebook page, which is where I found about this show. If you have seen her perform, of course, you’re probably already doing these things.
And while this was her first live performance in several weeks, she has been busy, getting her new single, “Weapon,” played on The Bull 101.7 and releasing her new Christmas song, “Where Are You Christmas.”