DIARY - 7 DECEMBER 2013 - ASHLEIGH DALLAS CD REVIEW
FROM DALLAS TO TAMWORTH - A FAMILY TRADITION
been dancing with a ghost again/ he knows me better than all my friends/
he doesn't care what I have to say/ he doesn't mind if I have a bad day."
- Dancing With A Ghost - Ashleigh & Brett Dallas.
Ashleigh Dallas flew the family nest in Tamworth she hitched her flaxen
wings to a superb sister in rhyme.
Dallas hit the Lost Highway with Kasey Chambers - first as a fiddler
then as a multi-instrumentalist - as she swung from the rhythm ropes
from Australia and Nashville to Austin, Texas.
It was a journey that started as a bedroom fiddler at six and mandolinist
at 10 as her genetics kicked up a gear.
is the grand-daughter of traditional country veteran Rex, daughter of
guitarist Brett and sister of bassist Lindsay who initially flew the coop
with Tamworth family band Chasing Bailey.
She also paid tribute to her late uncle Jeff who died prematurely in the
song Taken - she penned that with her dad.
"We wrote Taken together about my uncle who sadly passed away
with motor neurone disease," says the singer whose debut album Dancing
With A Ghost is an eclectic gem that exposes Dallas's talent as a
story teller as it examines her personal and career trajectory.
Comparisons with mentors Kasey Chambers and Catherine Britt are obvious
but there's also an organic appeal shared with the debut album by Texan
Kasey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe's Like A Rose.
"Dad is always the first one I play my songs to and he gives me his
honest thoughts - he is kind of like my best mate - and we wrote Me
in my really messy bedroom which was another special moment which really
keeps the family thing alive for me."
Jeff Dallas, father of four, died at 41 on August 23, 2010.
But the singer stepped outside her family on writing some of the 13 songs
on her album that survived the savage cull from 70 on the eve of recording
at Nash Chambers Foggy Mountain Studio in the Hunter Valley.
"Dancing With A Ghost came together a lot easier than I imagined
at first," Dallas revealed.
"I spent lot of time writing for the record, which meant travelling,
getting out and about, to evoke emotions that I could then put into a
song. I wrote that many songs had the hard decision of culling them into
an album. But now, I am so happy with all the tracks and feel like they
all fit on there. It was great being able to write songs with my Dad,
and share our musical ideas with one another as I feel that family is
a massive part of me."
Although Dallas has been writing since she was 12 she concentrated on
songs she wrote in the last two years.
"I've been writing songs since I was 12," Ashleigh explained.
"But I wrote the tracks that are on this album in the last two years.
There's a song on there I wrote only a couple of weeks before I went in
to make the record. I made it my priority to write for the record. So
it features all new songs - it's what I wanted to say on my very first
Kasey produced the disc with Matt Fell who mixed it at his Love HZ studio
Dallas added fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo to her album that also
featured Fell on bass, guitar, Hammond organ, melodica, harmonium and
ME VIDEO - DALLAS IN TRIPLICATE
"Well I've heard it all before/ and it's no different now/ and like
a paper aero-plane stuck in the wall/ I know I could fall down/ and all
my friends have disappeared/ I'm the only one left here/ all on my own
and I don't know why." - Me - Ashley and Brett Dallas.
debut single, Me, replete with a boudoir video of her singing and
playing fiddle and mandolin, as the launch pad for her album.
"I wrote at home with my Dad in my messy bedroom, reflecting back
on my time in particular at high school," Dallas revealed.
"I guess I was always a bit of the odd one out being a country music
singer, multi-instrumentalist, and on the weekends playing gigs with my
family band on the weekends instead of doing what I guess normal teenagers
did. For Year 7 I didn't sing, or play any music at school as I didn't
want to I guess be picked on as what I sang weren't always the most popular
songs you would hear other kids talk about. But my Mum and Dad encouraged
me that is okay to be myself, and people will accept me and I will be
happier being myself. So from year 8 onwards I was known as the country
singer, who played Fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo and I just kept
doing my thing. I guess deep down I always felt I never did fit in to
High school social groups, but I do have a lot of fun memories from school,
but also a few not so fun, and that's why I guess Me always hit
a chord with me. I think it's really cool that it's the first single of
my debut record."
attributes influences to her family.
"There's lots of different stories when you look at all the
songs," Dallas confessed.
"Carry Me is a song I wrote especially for my parents
and thinking back on my childhood. I would go along to The Pub in
Tamworth and watch my Dad and family play music, and in the car
ride home would pretend to be asleep just so my Dad would carry
me inside, and no matter what happened in life or still happens
now I know my parents will help me through it."
also wrote Dear Brother to her brother Lindsay and admits
her hometown inspired another song.
song Devil's Flame, I wrote while I was working a morning shift
at Tamworth's local Boost Juice," Ashleigh recalled.
"Normally I sit down with my guitar or fiddle and write my songs
not to a blender while making a few fruit smoothies, but looking back
now I think it's really cool."
CHAMBERS - RAILWAYS AND HIGHWAYS
this wall is staring me down/ and this pain will drive me out of town/
this train ride is leaving me blue/ and I'm losing my mind over toy."
- Riding The Rails - Ashleigh Dallas-Bill Chambers.
from her own family to the Chambers clan for a train song metaphor in
Riding The Rails and highway imagery in The Candle.
The link began as a 17-year-old when she joined Kasey Chambers' band on
a four year journey that honed her playing and opened her eyes to a fertile
font of song-writing.
"I feel though I learn lots from all the Chambers family," Dallas
"Working alongside Bill Chambers every night, I feel has improved
me as a musician, and I love co-writing with Bill, as he always makes
you feel comfortable and never stupid if you say a line that isn't great."
Although train songs are a staple of the genre it wasn't exactly planned
"I didn't really sit down and think I want to write a song about
a train," Dallas confessed.
"When I write a song it's got to be what I feel or what's come up
in me at the time, something that sparks an emotion. Although I actually
did write Riding The Rails after a train trip from Tamworth to
Gosford. I think it's best to write a song I can out myself into 100%.
And I've caught many trains by now."
sleeps his way through the morning sun/ doesn't move an inch until the
work is done/ and he stops for nothing at all." - Nothing At All
- Ashley Dallas-Tom Busby.
collaborated with South Australian singer Kelly Menhennet and Tom Busby
of Busby Marou.
"I wrote Money with good pal Kelly Menhennet and I feel she
brought out a side of me musically that I don't often explore," Ashleigh
at first I was really nervous about that song when we tracked it,
not because I didn't like it. I love the song, but because it was
something more out of my comfort zone. So when I play it live, I always
find it lots of fun and enjoy the reaction I get from the audience,
and the vibe it creates on stage, and stepping outside your comfort
zone is always a good and exciting thing."
Equally as rewarding was heading north to Queensland for another session.
of my favourite songs is the one I wrote with Tom Busby," Ashleigh
revealed of her writing with a musician who worked for five years as a
lawyer for Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions.
"I took my little Holden Astra all the way up to Brisbane on a road
trip with my guitar in the boot, and sat on the deck at Tom's house and
we wrote the song Nothing at All. It was such an awesome moment
for me to be able to write with an artist that I love. It is a fun song
that I guess sums up the circle of relationships. When it's the right
person you will stop at nothing to make it work even if sometimes you
go over and over the same things.
It was a goose bump moment for me when I had the guys come down to the
Foggy Mountain Studios and play on the track for the record!"
Dallas recorded Dancing With A Ghost for Nash Chambers label Essence.
It's distributed by Warner Music.
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