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Ashley Davies — Gold
(Strange Loops SL004, 2022, LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-12-13

Gold Cover art

Composer Ashley Davies is not exactly a household name outside his home base of Australia, but as a session drummer he has played on over 70 albums, as well as film and television scores, plus playing live with a number of Australia’s best known recording artists. But his skills as an instrumentalist don’t end with the drums — he is also proficient on acoustic and electric guitar, piano, keyboards, and more. The six solo albums he has produced since 2001 have been primarily instrumental endeavors, many with Davies playing the bulk of the instruments, and his latest, Gold, follows the established pattern. Don’t be misled by the album’s title, Gold is not a best-of summary of his previous works, but instead a collection of ten mostly-instrumental pieces inspired by ten of the paintings of his uncle Len (among several hundred he created), a World War II hero. Each of the ten cuts corresponds to one of those paintings, which are available as a downloadable artbook on request. Davies is joined by a number of top shelf musicians, including vocalists Karen Rush and Tess McKenna on a few tracks (only one, “Walking” features any lyrics, and the lyric is simply the title, repeated, but in the song’s context it’s quite effective), violinists Lizzy Welsh and Erkki Veltheim, cellist Katherine Philp, and on second lead guitar and mandolin, Sam Lemann. The material on Gold fits mostly into somewhat of a rock-centric sound of short pieces in the two to four minute range, with a few reaching up into the five minute range — soundtrack vignettes if you will, each exquisitely arranged for maximum effectiveness. Following the aggressive opener “Birth” (one which uses massed choirs as simply another instrument in the mix) there are a number of standouts, including the mysterious guitar piece “Camel,” the title track, a short one that glides forward with a sax and trumpet melody, the slow builder “Discovery” delivering a beautiful melody via sax and strings, picking up the pace nicely in the middle of the tune, which along with “Lost” are two that stretch out to a full five minutes, with the latter delivering a blast of slow heavy rock as it proceeds with its spellbinding delivery. My understanding is that Gold will only be available as a vinyl long player or a download, both available at the Bandcamp link below.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Ashley Davies

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