Earthy grit. Rootsy and soft. A distinct voice. At its core, Ashley Riley’s music is best described as sophisticated indie/Americana. There’s a dreamy quality to the songs, yet lyrically they capture the essence of the more honest moments of our days: those seemingly ordinary moments that suddenly take your breath away or make you weak in the knees, those moments that prove to us that oftentimes the most extraordinary moments are found in our everyday lives. Riley’s 7-song EP, Can’t Let You Go, due out March 3, 2017, takes this sentiment to heart – there is something there that we will all relate to.
For 2016’s full-length release (Through The Thin), Riley and her band recorded about 22 songs. It was in going back through those songs and other recordings that had been whittled away from previous records that Riley began to realize she had the makings of an EP. “All of the songs were born out of other sessions,” she says. “They didn’t quite fit the other projects I’ve put out because they had more of an alt- country flair than the majority of what I was doing at the time, but to me they were still beautiful and important. A few of the songs, like ‘Lovers’ and ‘Tell Me Why,’ go all the way back to 2009. I went through all of my unreleased songs and started taking those pieces and fitting them together. It just made sense to re-record them and release them together as an EP.” Can’t Let You Go was recorded and produced by Matt Comerford (bass player in the band). Joining Riley and Comerford in the studio once again were Tyler Bundy (lead guitar, pedal steel) and Ian Grindstaff (drums).
Riley has been a staple in the music scene of her hometown Decatur, IL, where she got her start hosting open mics in 2008, helping to revitalize and nurture the underground singer-songwriter scene in town. After starting as an acoustic-based songwriter on her first record, Riley realized by her second album that her songs begged for a band, and her next three albums got the full-band treatment to glowing reviews.
New Noise Magazine called her “one of the best obscure female artists I’ve heard in, well, ever,” and In- Forty.com declared her a “female songstress everyone would be wise to spend time with.” Women of Sub- stance Radio noted: “Ashley’s songs have an ethereal and delicate quality… Her reverence for Americana artists like Neil Young and Patty Griffin is unmistakable. She pens lyrics that are unsettling and some- times even disturbing, as all good lyrics should be.” Illinois Entertainer trumpeted: “Make no mistake, Ashley Riley has an utterly gorgeous voice and a sound all her own.” Seven of the nine songs on her third album, All The Pretty Things, can be heard in rotation on Starbucks in-store airplay.
With her latest EP, Riley made the decision to plant both feet firmly into the softer side of her sound and the result is a gorgeous and heartfelt collection of songs that pulls you in close and holds your attention. Says Riley: “A lot of songwriters refer to their songs as their children, but to me, these songs feel like a conversation with an old friend. Maybe it’s because most of the songs go back to when I first started writing. I’m excited to share them.”