Ashley Monroe, one-third of Pistol Annies, will release her debut solo album, Like A Rose, to digital outlets on December 18. The physical CD will be available at retail stores January 22, 2013. The album has been a long time coming as Ashley has been creating music more than half of her life, earning praise from the likes of Dolly Parton, Guy Clark, Vince Gill and Jack White along the way.
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., Ashley, who is not-too-distantly related to members of the legendary Carter Family, won a talent contest at age 11, singing “I want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Her father gave her her first guitar two years later, propelling her to develop a passion for songwriting. Shortly after, her father was diagnosed with cancer and died when Ashley was just 13.
After her father’s death, Ashley threw herself into music. She and her mother moved to Nashville so she could follow her dreams. Within a year, Ashley had signed a publishing deal, landed a recording contract and released a single, “Satisfied.” All was going well until her record label merged with a larger company and opted not to release her completed album, Satisfied. The album went on to find a home on iTunes but Ashley was back to square one.
Despite the setback, Ashley kept pushing forward. In 2008, she cut an EP with singer-songwriter Trent Dabbs and a few years later, was invited by Jack White to sing background vocals on an album he was producing for Wanda Jackson. To date, one of the most rewarding ventures for Ashley has been her part as a member of Pistol Annies. Their debut album, Hell on Heels, received rave reviews from critics.
Even with a list of accomplishments to her credit, Like a Rose is a starting point of sorts. Songs on the album run from feel-good to controversial to contemplative. Produced by Vince Gill, the project offers the full range of Ashley’s talent as a singer, songwriter and performer. The album was recorded the ‘old-fashioned way,’ using a live band.
“We just got the band in a circle and started playing the songs,” Ashley said. “And once we felt like we had a feel for it, I’d do my vocal live—I never went back in to do a second vocal. Everyone put everything we had into the songs. There was a buzz in the room. We all had fun—it felt like a big old family, the way records used to be made.”
Some of the songs were newly written for the album while others were penned years earlier, including the title track which was co-written by Guy Clark. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild co-wrote “You Got Me” with Ashley. “It’s about an addiction to something—one thing or another, whether you’re stuck in a bad relationship or alcohol or whatever it is—and you try to hide it and fight it but you’re kind of saying, ‘Alright, you got me,” Ashley said.
Blake Shelton makes an appearance on the album, dueting with Ashley on “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter).” The song “Used” is a re-recording of a song from Ashley’s Satisfied album and holds a special place in her heart.
“It came to me when I was about 17 and my manager at the time had just bought me this old 1950s Gibson guitar,” Ashley said. “It came into my mind that things are worth more used, and I thought about my mom, who had lost my dad when she was 38. I was thinking, she had two kids, she’s been through a lot, and, bless her heart, it’s all gonna be worth it. Vince and I worked up this new version, which made it fresh for me.”