Ariel Abshire - Still So New
2011, Darla Records
2011, Darla Records
We don't all hear the same things in music. It's the reason three people can listen to a song and walk away with three very different interpretations; or why a voice will greatly appeal to one and set the nerves of another on end. Chalk up my reaction to Ariel Abshire's Still So New to the vague differences in musical taste that dot the individuality and imperfection of human perception. The 19-year old Austin singer/songwriter has been singing in Texas honky-tonks and dance halls since the age of eleven, with mentors ranging from Alvin Crow to Pinetop Perkins, Clifford Antone and Dale Watson, among others. Abshire branched out into alternative and pop while still in her mid-teens, and her debut album, Exclamation Love, received significant critical praise. Abshire has gone on to record with Matt Pond PA (Spring Fools EP), and perform with the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker, Kellie Pickler, Holly Golightly and Robert Earl Keen. There's no doubt she's doing something right. Yet her sophomore album due August 16, 2011, Still So New, just doesn't live up to expectations based on Abshire's pedigree.
Still So New is full of well-written but ultimately uninspiring songs all penned by Abshire, ranging from light pop to light country, all sung in a throaty, nasal voice that's challenging to the ears. Within that sound is a clear clean voice that is capable of being more, but between the "swallowed voice" effect and Abshire's occasional tendency to slip on pitch from time to time, the net effect of the performance is underwhelming. The up side is that Abshire's songwriting might conservatively be called competent. While the songs presented on "Still So New" fail to soar, it's not due to the song craft involved. Abshire displays an ability to craft semi-conversational stories with real poetic flow; pairing these with pretty melodies that flow like water. Even if Abshire doesn't ultimately have a career as a big-time performer, she's quite capable of writing hits for those who do.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Ariel Abshire at www.arielabshire.com or www.myspace.com/arielabshireforreal. Still So New drops on August 16, 2011. Still So New is available for digital pre-order through Amazon.com.