The River Has Many Voices – Ash St.
The River Has Many Voices’ most recent release, Ash St., conveys a careful optimism through a grounded, simple style, exulting the beauty of everyday moments. The album begins with a piano ballad and uses an emotional chord progression and string arrangement to layer on the heartbreak. A voice that captures a genuine thoughtfulness is wrapped in a spacey reverb singing “I’ve done this all before/ I stood here at this door” and it is this cyclical nature of nostalgia and reflection that comes to define the album.
The second track of the album explains, “There’s a passage in the heart that knows no sorrow” and goes on to communicate a lyrical vulnerability that explores the intimacy of relationships as well as the spooled thread of time as it unravels. As we listen through Ash St., we move through blatantly shameless love songs that take a certain kind of courageousness in their specificity. The River Has Many Voices wraps metaphors of love and landscape, mixing and matching until the separation between a kiss and a sunset become indistinguishable.
Ash St. exudes traveling troubadour vibes in that the songs sound similar to something you’ve heard before, familiar as they steep in timeless themes of love and loss. It makes sense on a universal level but each tune is clearly inspired by the nuances of an individual experience. Arrangements are characterized by calming acoustic guitar, constructing a dream-like quality to the songs, like soft autumn leaves falling all around you.
There is a slow, steady nature to the collection as it progresses. Patient and careful in its connectedness, Ash St. forces you to pause and engage. Borrowing lyrics from Bob Dylan and weaving in melodic lines that strongly nod to the American folk movements of the 60s, listeners will find common ground with other artists like the Avett Brothers and Connor Oberst. Spacey electric guitar drones serve as a sort of backbone to the album, weaving it all together.
Later, a stand-out track of the album, “A Thousand On Fire” is a reflective narrative on individuality in America. It’s a song that revels in an urban landscape set amongst graffitied boxcars and flickering street lamps during the odd hours of the night. The gentle plucking pattern on the acoustic guitar is placed beneath lyrics that ripple with intensity and dissatisfaction. “It’s hard but the past don’t ever stay in yesterday.”
“These Things I Keep” begins with a pensively drawn-out intro. The lyrics rollick through the rain and stone of Texas, playing with distance and the intentional act of keeping a person close through curated thoughts. Ultimately, it is a song of gratitude. Over time, it is revealed that the “things kept” in this song are predominantly memories relived with each step of a long walk. “I’ll Send My Love Out In The Wind”, talks of taking poetry from the woods. This idea perfectly encapsulates the feel of the album as a whole. While quick jaunts into urban settings provide room for thoughtful reflections on roles and expectations within society, this album is ultimately a conversation between nature and memories, wistful and patient in its storytelling and musicality.