February 7, 2006

Ashton Allen

Okay, so his name sounds like he should be a handsome, tortured billionaire (maybe with amnesia or a secret love child) on a daytime soap opera (and wait, he kind of looks like it too!), but Ashton Allen actually makes some good alternative indie folk. While musicians must tire of comparisons, in order to give you a sense of his sound, it is heavily influenced by first & foremost Elliott Smith, and The Beatles. Hea-vi-ly. And you’ve got the ghosts of Paul & Art traipsing around in the background as well (you can also say Simon & Garfunkel, but we are on a first name basis, so…ya know).

KFOG tipped me to this fine chap, saying “Atlanta singer/songwriter Ashton Allen adds even more melody [than Nick Drake and Iron & Wine], a little more pace, Beatle-esque horns, clean and honest strings, crisp percussion and flawless production on his debut solo album . . . Irresistible.”

I very much like the entire Dewdrops album (2005), with its minor melodies, double-tracked vocals and rich/varied instrumentation. I have listened to it more often than any other new album I have gotten in the last few months. However, I’ll raise this point for discussion: If I were a HUGE Elliott Smith fan, instead of the fairly new & moderate one that I am, I might have a hard time not dwelling on just how *much* he sounds like Mr. Smith (especially pronounced on tracks like “Drive” and “World’s Fair”).

I liken it to the way that I cannot ever under ANY circumstances listen to Creed, just because the first time I heard them they made me turn up the radio to see if it was a new Pearl Jam song I was hearing. I’ve never forgiven them for that. So, Elliott fans I think you will like Ashton, but I’d be curious to know.

It is really good stuff (and I am not, godforbid, comparing him with Creed – *shudder*). My only minor qualm would be that some of the lyrics are rather unimaginative and pedestrian, but I do like the music and I would recommend the album.

Dewdrops” – Ashton Allen (finger-picking melody, lonely shoe-tapping percussion).

If You Leave” – Ashton Allen (crack out the piano, on this, the most Beatlesesque tune on the disc)

Starting Over” – Ashton Allen (a bit more upbeat, with some mandolin I think)

He’s on eMusic, for those of you looking for a worthy cause to spend your 50 free downloads on. In addition to Ashton Allen, some Otis Redding, and The Turtles, I buckled and bought some me some Tone Loc. Funky cold medina indeed.


  • another great acousticy artist :)

    especially like the Dewdrops tune

    supergurg — February 7, 2006 @ 6:26 am

  • i am a big fan of elliott and here is my take:

    the elliot influence is strong. however, one of the big defining aspects of elliots music is that despite its beauty, it was quite gritty. there is no grit here – its all glossed up and pretty.

    i still like it tho.
    the guitar solo in “if you leave” is great.

    Don't Need Anything — February 7, 2006 @ 9:27 am

  • yeah, i agreed in some regards with the popmatters review of his album:

    “One huge difference is that Allen sounds happy most of the time. Even when his voice is depressed, his words are happy: “Miracles they happen every day / I think it’s time for me / To put this doubt upon a shelf / And keep it there forever.”" Remember when Elliott Smith wrote a similar line on XO? Me neither. It’s because he didn’t.”

    Same point. But it is still eminently listenable. Thanks for commenting!

    heather — February 7, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  • great new artist, I checked out the entire cd on Emusic, and was not dissappointed. “If you leave” is very Beatleesque, it almost sounds like some of Paul’s solo work. Great find Heather, keep up the great work.

    Jason — February 7, 2006 @ 10:38 pm

  • heather,

    i have to admit, i’ve never heard of this guy…so i listened to a couple of the songs and mostly dug them. i’m gonna go grab a few more from emusic before i make up my mind on him either way…but yeah, he’s definitely got some elliott-ness going.

    as others have said, not gritty or depressing enough, but there are other elements there (beatlesque ones definitely).

    thanks for the new music!

    Chad — February 8, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  • Love this guy and your blog! Thanks for all the great tracks!

    MyExBestFriend — February 18, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

  • I’m a huge Elliott Smith fan, and I’d have to say – Ashton Allen disappoints me. When I first heard Dewdrops, I thought it was Elliott Smith, until I listened more closely and realized it obviously wasn’t his song. Maybe AA should try and develop his own style instead of poorly knocking off Elliott’s.

    marenbrantner — February 10, 2008 @ 5:12 am

  • I’m a huge Elliott fan, and I like to think I know his music from anyone. So when I heard AA I thought more along the lines of “this sounds like Elliott Smith” than “is this Elliott Smith?”. I don’t hold it against artists who are clearly influenced by others, especially when their influences are so amazing. In my opinion, it is far better than artists who say they were influenced by, say, The Beatles, and are a horrible band. Elliott Smith has a unique, beautiful, gritty sound. His lyrics and sound will always be unique to him and no other artist. Anyway, bottom line, I love Elliott Smith, and I’m really liking Dewdrops.

    Anonymous — May 25, 2008 @ 12:32 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
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