Even though this rather relentless winter is rallying with no consolation coming, it’s not so bad. Being snowed in with a -15 degree wind chill gives me time to write about a different kind of weather, because with the surge of snow comes the felicity of its flakes. As a flake falls, temperatures take their toll, allowing the shape to show. My favorite musical snowflake is Ashley Monroe.
Some people say that a song can mark a memory, take you back to that time and place, and while that’s true, Monroe’s music has the opposite outcome for me. It was circa 2007 when I first heard one of her songs, and I don’t remember where I was or who I was with, because everything faded away except for the feeling that formed. “Used, like a book read so many times front to back, it starts to split in two. Used, like a house where a family lived until they died, and there’s a soul in every room.”
Monroe conjures a lot of co-writing credits, including Miranda Lambert’s hit “Heart Like Mine,” and plays professionally with her pal in Pistol Annies. While the group is “Hell on Heels,” drinking, smoking, and “Taking Pills,” it’s Monroe’s solo music that is inescapable. Her 2013 release “Like a Rose” was not only critically acclaimed, but revealing, raw, and relatable. It is an anthem for those of us who were planted in some pretty sun-less spots, under cold, dark, dirt, and managed to make it, to bloom into something beautiful.
She sings outspoken songs about what she likes and loathes, preferring “Weed Instead of Roses, whiskey instead of wine.” Not afraid to respond to rumors, she often confronts the town talk, like in “Two Weeks Late:” ‘I bet I’m the talk of this town…So the man is gone, what a damn cliche’, and my mama says looks like I’ve gained some weight. Landlord’s at the door, he says the rent can’t wait, but I’m a dollar short and two weeks late….” Ashley Monroe is the party and the pain, the carpe diem and the oh crap, the fun times and the fallout, the late night laughter and the “Morning After.”
Monroe is a rare rose, and she always has good music growing in her garden. She can be heard on Blake Shelton’s latest hit, “Lonely Tonight.” Her new song, “On to Something Good,” which you can stream now on Spotify, is like a blessing from above. Monroe is like a lyrical life coach, if your life coach would tell you to go take a toke, or pop some Prozac, and “dance up on the table, singing ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ God gave it to me, what good’s it gonna do me
if I don’t, by God, let it shine.” You can see this beautiful snowflake at an upcoming show, because her music is one storm you want to be stuck in.