Album Review: Ashley Monroe - Like A Rose
By: Dan MacIntosh
Ashley Monroe may be best known for her role, along with Angaleena Presley and Miranda Lambert, in Pistol Annies. However, she also has been involved in a long running collaboration with singer-songwriter Trent Dobbs, as well as working with Jack White on The Raconteurs music and the White-produced Wanda Jackson album, The Party Ain’t Over.
Like A Rose is Monroe’s first full-length since 2009’s Satisfied, and it’s a winner. It’s full of smart songs, sung well, and hopefully the album that gets Monroe recognized by the wider public.
One song that’s almost certain to get Monroe a look and listen, and for all the right reasons, is a silly duet with Blake Shelton titled “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter),” a song that describes two wannabe country star karaoke singers. On it, Shelton’s character tells Monroe’s character that she’s no Dolly Parton (“She’s a little bit fuller”), while she informs Shelton’s character that he’s no Porter Wagoner (“But you’re a whole lot shorter”). This funny song, which plays upon the real life duet partners, Dolly and Porter, includes some true zinger one-liners. After Monroe quips, “You’ll probably see me country singing on 'The Voice' one day,” referring to Shelton’s job as a coach on the popular singing show, Shelton responds with a big fib, “Yeah, and I’m the guy they wrote about in Shades of Grey.” The song combines Traditional Country Music with contemporary pop culture references, for a song that will have you giggling all the way through.
Monroe knows how to play the jokester, as she does with “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter),” and as she sometimes does with Pistol Annies. But this fine singer also knows her way around a tragic country song. With “She’s driving me out Of Your Mind,” for instance, is fiddle and Hargus “Pig” Robbins-like piano soaked ballad. In fact, it’s just the kind of cheating song Dolly and Porter might have sung back in the day.
Chances are good “Weed Instead of Roses” will also garner a lot of notice, simply for the fact that it has a synonym for marijuana in its title. However, if you think this is Monroe’s pro-pot song, you’re entirely missing the whole point. Instead, this lyric is all about going against clichéd traditions when it comes to expressing romance. She wants weed instead of roses, and also whiskey rather than wine. In fact, this gal’s ready to go straight for the whips and chains. She’s not the good girl next door, in other words.
Along with Kacey Musgraves’ arrival, this is turning out to be a good year for the roses (singers of the fairer sex, that its). Much like Miranda Lambert before her and the Dixie Chicks much further back. Monroe is proving that a girl can speak frankly in country songs. Women like Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill have their places, God bless ‘em, but real people will just gravitate more to gals with a little dirt under their fingernails. You get the feeling Monroe has spent more time around trailer parks than high class hotels, and the music shows it.
Ashley Monroe does not just come out smelling Like A Rose; she also sounds like she’s gotten a little dirty now and then while tending her garden.