(10 July 2005) Ashley Cleveland has been making great music for over a decade. Much like Sam Phillips, Cleveland is an artist that has never found massive success despite the fact that she has written and recorded some of the most essential records of the last twenty years. Anyone who is familiar with her work already knows that and those who will be hearing her for the first time will never see music the same. Read more about Ashley Cleveland in our
Cleveland’s most recent release, Men and Angels Say (Rambler Records (USA) WD2A-343003, 2005), is a collection of hymns redone in a more contemporary way. The songs have a certain blues based honest rock flare to them that is reminiscent of her previous albums. The sound is comparable to that of artists like Bob Dylan, Sixteen Horsepower, and the like.
To say that this album is powerful would simply not do it justice. Cleveland's distinct voice soars throughout these twelve tracks. She has never sounded better as a matter of fact. The passion and conviction she sings these songs with runs deep, and it is evident it in her voice. When coupling her voice with songs so intimate that they have remained staples of our culture for over a hundred years you get something altogether beautiful.
The inviting and peaceful "Come Ye Sinners" is like a beacon that shines and offers hope in a frustrating world. It is every bit as powerful as when it was written. The more rock-oriented "Power in the Blood" and the unbridled conviction of "It Is Well With My Soul" are definitely highlights.
Perhaps the album's best moment comes though with the desperate and confessional "I Need Thee Every Hour." Although this song would be powerful on its own, the addition of the legendary Steve Winwood is like icing on the cake. His immediately recognizable voice will undoubtedly grab the listener's attention.
This is an amazing collection of songs from an artist you should expect no less from. Longtime fans will be well pleased with the quality of this record. If you aren't in the know about
Ashley Cleveland the check out her music, because you are missing something. This is as good a place as any to start. There's not a bad one in the bunch.--Mark Fisher in West Virginia