The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Entertainment

April 16, 2010

Ashton changes her tune

AU alum adds blues, edge to her songs on second CD

ANDERSON, Ind. — Leah Ashton, an Anderson University alum, wants the public to hear her latest musical venture.

On Tuesday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Reardon Auditorium lobby on the AU campus, she will play tunes from her new, six-song CD, “Things Better Left Unsaid.”

The release, she said, is more bluesy and more edgy than her 2007 self-titled five-song disc.

“My first CD focused on my own thoughts, self, life,” said Ashton, 23.

“But my second CD focuses more on relationships, another person and my perspective.”

Her first CD was released by Orangehaus records at Anderson University.

Her songs have played on WQME radio frequently. Matt Rust, program director of WQME, enjoys both playing and listening to her music. 

“I can’t wait to hear Leah’s new album. She’s amazing! So much talent … and it’s different. She’s fresh and new, not a copy of someone else. Our listeners love her music,” said Rust.

Her greatest influences growing up in the Akron, Ohio, area were her dad and her grandmother.

There were always musical instruments around the house for her and her siblings to bang on.

“Dad was a drummer and music lover, while grandma played piano, was a dancer in tap, jazz and ballet. She introduced me to musicals, especially Disney,” Ashton said.

“I have been influenced by so many types of music,” Ashton said. “I hope that this is evident in the new material, a collection of songs that represent where I am as a songwriter and musician currently.”

With this new release, she hopes that listeners who have been following her for the past few years can hear the growth and development in her music.

Using influences of favorite singer/songwriters Ella Fitzgerald, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper and Rufus Wainwright, Ashton mixes it up with a modern sound. She joked that her sound was “white girl with a lot of soul.”

But Christianity is also an influence in her lyrics.

“These songs aren’t what you’d consider typical Christian songs, but in general, it’s behind my songwriting,” she said.

Traveling throughout the Midwest to places such as Nashville, Tenn., coffee houses and other venues, Ashton’s music grew with her along the way. The new collection of songs reflects a more mature, confident woman who wants to share her message with others.

A website, www.kickstarter.com, was used to raise funds to produce the disc. Many young artists are turning to fundraising on the Internet to help meet their dreams of producing their music. Ashton also uses Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to connect to fans.

Until she makes the big time, Ashton works regular jobs such as substitute teaching and traveling on weekends to play different venues. Her band members are Andrew Camp, guitar; Joel Burkhead, bass; Jeremy Hazen, drums, and Matt Ulrich, keys.  All but Camp are alums of Anderson University.

Burkhead said, “I’ve been playing bass for Leah for 3 or 4 years now. Over that time, I’ve seen Leah take her music from piano jazz to upbeat soft rock and it has morphed into a bluesy pop with lyrics that convey true emotion.

“Leah isn’t afraid to tell you how it is. She’ll write songs that are blunt and ‘in your face’ because she doesn’t sugar-coat it. A lot of these songs on her new album, ‘Things Better Left Unsaid,’ come from real life and you can tell she means what she sings.

“Not only are her lyrics powerful, she has the control to croon a sultry ballad or blast a guitar-driven rock song. Listeners will love her new blues/pop/rock sound,” he said.

Dave Elwert, who helped produce the CD in his recording studio, said that Ashton’s eclectic writing style combined with her powerhouse vocals and contagious personality will make her new EP hard to pass up.  “It was a fun project to be a part of and I’m looking forward to the release show on April 20.” 

Song titles are: “Things Better Left Unsaid,” “Bright Side,” “City Lights,” “Blaming It on My Dreams,” “Easier Said Than Done” and “Original.”

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