Following on from their 2017 debut, ‘Wildfire’, pop-rock duo Ashland have gone from strength-to-strength, and have now delivered their sophomore record, ‘Over The Moon’.
Opener ‘I Hate That’ introduces the Illinois pair perfectly showcasing both of their talents that they bring to the band; Asia Marie‘s vocals embracing this uniquely powerful pop quality, whilst Aaron Wood‘s guitar solo emphasises that they’re very much a team in this project.
This transitions into the album’s title-track, which is easily the standout of the record. From the opening lyrics, “At a table for two / Valentino shoes / my favourite dress should’ve been blue”, it’s pretty evident it’s somewhat of a whimsical (verging on cheesier) number, but its completely endearing lullaby-esque vibe makes for a dreamy pop song that will soon find you putting this on repeat.
One of the overriding qualities that Ashland really bring to the table is their ability to pen some extremely catchy pop anthems. ‘Think You Know Me’ is a infectiously upbeat dance track brimming with sass as a metaphorical middle finger to anyone who has ever doubted them, one that many will relate to.
‘No Place’ changes up the pace of the album right where its needed, experimenting with a much simpler beat and mostly led with basic snaps of the fingers, yet it works so well and is everything that a good pop record should be.
Their experimentation continues in ‘Get To Know You’, which is another standout offering. Its Spanish Latino vibe brings a whole new level to this band, and producing a contemporary sound that’s so relevant in today’s mainstream charts that it wouldn’t seem out of place amongst them at all.
Marie‘s vocals at various points on the album often feel very reminiscent of fellow strong women in the industry. Her feistiness and power reflecting the likes Katy Perry, whilst her obvious song writing talents to mix both personal subjects with levels of humour reflect the writing style of Taylor Swift, with a sight rockier edge of Avril Lavigne.
‘OMG’ really demonstrates this lyrical ability. On the surface it’s a playful track about that person everyone knows who just can never make up their mind, but underneath is actually Marie writing about her own insecurities, and, after a few listens, the lyrics take on a whole new meaning almost like an open letter to her anxieties, and is another attribute to the sheer writing talents this band have to offer.
Slowing the record right down is the beautiful ballad of ‘I Don’t Mind’. Although this is a song about heartbreak and the lyrics are gut-wrenchingly sad, this was the final song the band wrote with producer Matt Amelung, who sadly lost his fight to cancer in June 2019, bringing so much more meaning to the track with the band dedicating the album to him.
Overall, ‘Over The Moon’ is a delightful pop record. Although it’s somewhat different to the band’s previous record, it works and showcases both members’ talents throughout its 10 tracks. Hopefully with their signing and such a late release in 2019, the next twelve months will become the year that Ashland truly make their mark.