Thu, Feb 9, 2012.
One of the new leading lights on the East Coast scene comes from Montague, where she was recently honoured with two Music PEI awards. Ashley Condon is playing a series of shows this week in New Brunswick, and it's a good chance to get acquainted with this singer-songwriter. Condon was the winner of the Best New Artist prize, as well as the Lynn Grishko Memorial Award, which recognizes a female performer making great strides in their career.
You can hear those strides on her debut, called Come In From The Cold. Condon does a mix of self-composed folk, country and roots material, all in a laid-back mode, an easy pace which lets her considerable vocal talents shine through. Largely acoustic, or at least mellow, the disc has a feel that places it in the parlour, and sometimes on the front porch. It's easy to imagine her sitting around with a couple of players, making music to touch the hearts of everyone in the room. Even on the suggestive, romantic The Neighbours Ain't Home, the message is sent out softly, but of course there's always lots of power in the subtle approach.
There's lots of love on the disc, whether its for a partner, parent or child. You Got Me By The Heart is a strong one, interlocking guitars, bass and mandolin the backdrop for a simple scene, a loved one coming in from the cold, and the desire to bring some warmth their way. Gone, which closes the album, is old-time folk music, and aside from the use of the word rewind, could have come from a hundred years ago, and Condon summons up a voice full of remorse in this tale of an unfaithful lover.
The emotional high-point of the disc is called Everything, a sparsely-accompanied song sung to a mother who has passed away way too young. The child thinks she hears or sees her mother all around her, her eyes sparkling in the stars, her voice whispering in her ear. It has one of the most touching lyrics I've heard in awhile: "Then you disappeared/into everything/the rain and spring/the sea and the soil and the summer wind/I'll remember you 'cause your love shines through/in everything."
You can catch Ashley Condon at the Vintage Bistro in Hampton Thursday night, in Alma on Friday at An Octopus' Garden Cafe, and at the Homeport Inn in Saint John on Saturday.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).