Corin Ashley and Ruby Free

Corin Ashley

Corin Ashley “Broken Biscuits”

Corin Ashley is glad to be here, and we are glad to have him back. He was deep in the recording process when he suffered a stroke last year. Corin fought back to regain the ability to sing and play guitar again, and amazingly play on stage and finish this album in a single year.

There is something about “Little Crumbles” that reminds me of McCartney’s Back to The Egg. Like Macca at the time, its aggressive rock approach is a celebratory jam of rebirth. “Broken Biscuit #3” is a quick psyche-pop pastiche, then it launches into the gem “Wind Up Boy” with assistance from Tanya Donelly (The Breeders, Belly) which chugs along full of sweet strings and catchy couplets. The Beatle-isms are out in full flourish with “Edison’s Medicine” a not so distant cousin of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

“Broken Biscuits #9” is the personal story of the struggles that left Corin “in tatters, scattered to the wind.” The combo of bouncy and bitterness on “In Appropriate Fashion” is straight out of the Elvis Costello playbook. Towards the end of the album, the songs are more elaborately constructed, “King Hollow” working quite well, while others seem to linger too long. The six-minute “Jellyfish” isn’t a tribute to the famous band (although there are a few musical cues) but the cruel fate that left him partially paralyzed. Overall a highly recommended album.

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Ruby Free

Ruby Free “Shades”

Lisa Cavaliere and singer-songwriter Rick Hromadka make up the duo of Ruby Free and they deliver an even better album on their sophomore effort Shades. They are aided by power pop veterans Joe Giddings (Star Collector), Jim Laspesa (Dave Davies, Susanah Hoffs), and Rick Gallego (Cloud Eleven).

“Take A Ride” is a rollicking road tune with the perfect mix of California attitude and a catchy chorus that makes this a great opener. “Walking Along” is fiendish hooky, like a Steve Miller Band classic that won’t leave your head. “Say Goodnight” and “Owe To The Man” are laid back gems that encourage repeat listens. Lisa also does a very capable solo cover of Karen Carpenter’s “Superstar” and Rick ruminates on the state of modern marriage in “Talk To Me.”

Shades allow both artists to shine together and on solo vocal leads. Styles vary enough from the country ballad “Billboards and Buses” to the Tom Pettyesque “It’s Not Your Dream.” Clearly, no duds here as it earns a spot as a nominee for my top ten for 2017 list. Highly Recommended.

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