Ash Gray – Chicken Wire

Album Review | Labelship Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 5/5

Texan songwriter Ash Gray now relocated to Sheffield in the UK brings together Yorkshire and Austin Texas musicians. The resulting album blends Country and an undercurrent of 60s Psych music. The cosmic cowboy of Texas blended with the gritty Folk Troubadour of the UK. Chickenwire is a pleasing mix of very chilled folk country, playing and sung with the lopping ease of Wizz Jones and the moonshine Americana that American Beauty era Grateful Dead did so well. Josephine Clark showcases Ash Gray’s fleet fingered acoustic and a wonderful layered vocal. The track sounding like a blissful 70’s singer songwriter or something that might have appeared on a David Ackles Elektra album. “Sundown” builds into wonderful up tempo Country Rock, another great Ash Gray vocal backed by Cello and atmospheric pedal steel. Thought “The Creek Don’t Rise” would be a Dylan LeBlanc cover, but Ash Gray takes the same kind of Folk blues lyrics and turns out a masterful piece of electrifying bar band blues. I bet this track rocks live as it just jumps out of the speakers. Tracks like “Golden Road” and “It Might Get Loud” are shot through with that rural boogie feel that characterised early 70s Grateful Dead. The laid back vocals, the strummed guitars and the woozy bar piano. This is audibly the same man who recorded 2013’s fine “Once I Got Burned” but there is an agreeable swampiness and richness to the new album that adds sparkle and depth. The title track blends in a kind of Tex Mex, Desert Blues with a dub or reggae beat that shimmers and shimmys out of the speakers. You can hear the smiles and nods as the band plays together. This is the sound of musicians in a room having a good time. Listen long, listen hard and turn it up.