Ashley Raines–I’ve spent the last week being charmed by this rugged gentleman’s voice. I wish I was a musician instead of a writer so that I could sing all about what makes his work magical, but I am no musician so I will spare you all that experience. Instead, I will tell you about just a few of the things that there is to love about Mr. Ashley Raines.
Mr. Raines is originally from Kansas but left home at fourteen years to vagabond around the country. At fourteen I was in eighth grade and could hardly dress myself. He was train hopping, hitchhiking, seeing things, feeling things, experiencing hunger and fear, and learning to play all kinds of instruments. He street busked, sold his music on sidewalks. He eventually put down roots in Colorado Springs. He has produced eleven records in the last fourteen years and is gearing up for another release this summer. I find this amount of music to be just amazing.
Ashley Raines’ voice sounds like corn fields and machinery, coffee and chocolate, gravel and whiskey. It is organic and rough, bitter and smooth, gritty and refined. It has a driving force to it and, comes from a place that is deeper than the water hole back in the woods where I used to go cliff diving–no one had ever gotten to the very bottom. The instrument which Ashley has fallen into a loving relationship with is truly wonderful and greatly underused by musicians–the steel lap guitar. His is a custom Weissenborn. For any of you who are not familiar with this instrument, it has a very unique sound due to its materials, shallower box, and hollow neck. Amazing instrument and Mr. Raines is a master. It perfectly complements his voice and musical style. Songs range from melancholy rain-on-a-tin-roof-in-the-forest sound, to a positive, almost country sound. There are a lot of country roots here, but very deep ones. His co-players over the years have been varied and talented.
One of my favorite songs I have discovered is featured on the “One Trick Mule” album. He sings it as a duet with Manda Mosher who has a voice as sweet as his is rugged. They compliment beautifully and are supported by simple instrumentals and rhythm. The song is driving and keeps my hands and feet tapping. I love that the writing is perfect for the voice and the music. These albums are a true work of passion for Mr. Raines and have been since he was young. They have kept him alive for many years. The whole album is fantastic. Rock and roll and blues-y. Go check it out, find something you love and go trawl through the grottos of his other music. Get excited for the new album this summer! I know I am. I leave you with this video which I love.