Ashley Monroe Breaks Hearts, Sings New Music During CMA Fest Showcase
To say Ashley Monroe falls into herself during a song is misleading, and an understatement. When the singer drops her head and gives into the weight of her lissome eyelashes, it’s as if theater curtains have dropped, concealing a world of chaos and disharmony that the audience only hears about on her albums, and on stage.
During ‘Like a Rose,’ the third song in the Pistol Annies member’s solo set at 3rd and Lindsley on Thursday night, the 27-year-old disappeared into the memories that make the story so real and effective. Before beginning she explained how she and Guy Clark set out to write about her life. One could almost see a film reel full of painful memories clicking past at 24 frames per second. Eventually she came back, her eyes now moist and vulnerable.
Then she cracked a joke and offered one of her short, sweet rising giggles before moving on. The dichotomy is heartbreaking, and absolutely spellbinding.
In total, Monroe played for an hour. She joked about how her grandfather thought ‘Weed Instead of Roses’ was about actual weeds, not marijuana. Then she performed the song in his honor. “Lately I’ve been dreaming you in leather, me in lace / Let’s put up the teddy bears, and get out the whips and chains,” she sang, as he looked on from the balcony. There was no shortage of friends and family in the crowd on this night.
‘Has Anybody Ever Told You’ and ‘Winning Streak’ are two new songs she played. Both are likely to be included on her next album. The first is a love song she’d written some time ago, the second recalls the down on her luck lady she played so efficiently on the ‘Like a Rose’ album.
She also played one Pistol Annies song, and ‘Heart Like Mine,’ a song she co-wrote with Miranda Lambert during a girls’ trip to Dollywood. The singer held everyone’s attention throughout the set, telling stories of how each selection came to be before punctuating the end with that short, rising laugh.
Muddy Magnolias, Striking Matches and Marc Scibilia opened for Monroe. Of the three Muddy Magnolias packed the largest crowed, but Sarah Zimmerman of Striking Matches left a lasting image of what country’s next guitar slinger could look like. Her solo on the duo’s final song came with an aggression rarely seen by country women, especially country women that look sweeter than saccharin.