Images by Ashe.
At 28 years old, Ashlyn Wilson, better known as Ashe, has released her debut album on May 7, 2021. Originating from San Jose CA, Ashe has made a name for herself through the release of multiple EPS. Despite a global pandemic occurring, 2020 was a huge year for her. Ashe’s song “Moral of the Story” received nonstop recognition and popularity from late night shows to being featured on the ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: P.S. I Still Love You’ soundtrack. All this buzz amounting to a successful 270,000,000 total streams on Spotify. Ashe continues to climb the charts with her debut album ‘Ashlyn’. She recounts personal heartbreaking and coming of age realizations with her unique sound piecing together an extremely vulnerable debut.
The first song on the album is “Till Forever Falls Apart” featuring FINNEAS. This track opens with a sweet melody on the piano and acoustic guitar as a buildup to the first tone of Ashe’s voice. This duet creates a beautiful love song about friendship. This is evident as FINNEAS sings “There’s nothing more romantic than dying with your friends”. It creates a conversation through the lyrics sung by both Ashe and FINNEAS. The lyrics in the song are carved toward California as they sing “As the tide takes California” and “We’ve been living on a fault line”. The fragile nature of California to natural disasters paints contrast to the bonds between two people tied together for life. The voices of Ashe and FINNEAS create a strong duet with haunting undertones to truly convey the deeper meaning held in the lyrics. Both vocalists can be found having fun in the music video for “Till Forever Falls Apart” with a sweetly choreographed dance.
“I’m Fine” is the second track on ‘Ashlyn’. The first verse starts with a simple guitar and piano instrumental making Ashe’s voice ring out. Right before the drop into the chorus, the song evokes a few strings into the mix for a buildup. Ashe plays with an interesting and fun style with her vocals in the chorus. She creates an echoing effect with her own voice instead of using another. The lyrics tell of needing someone even when you do not want to admit it. Everyone has one person that helps them get through a funk. One unique talent to Ashe is how well she paints a picture with her lyrics. With phrases like “Almost put salt in my coffee”, “Tripped over something spilt it all over your front seat” and “Keep your eyes down, keep your chin up”. Through clever wordplay she creates a sure-fire hit that anyone can relate to.
The next song, “Love Is Not Enough”, begins with an interesting start with a sound that sounds like an old movie starting up after a flick of a switch. This then transitions into a beautiful piano introduction. The song plays out with a minor tone which becomes evident in the chorus. This is the first sign on the album of a true slow song. “Love is not enough” is a song of falling out of love. Ashe sings lyrics that paint the picture of one person fighting for a relationship that just cannot be fixed. As she sings “It takes more than a rose”, “You can slam the door”, and “You said you want a girl with a future”. This song is the realization that false love can be blinding and eventually one must make the choice to give it all up or take it one day at a time. She sings “We can take our sweet time, I think we’ll be just fine” as an outro to the song which conveys her choice to take the relationship day by day.
The fourth song on the album is titled “When I’m Older”. Playing with the same unique sound in a previous song, “I’m Fine”, this song opens with Ashe’s distorted vocals ringing over what sounds like an old phonograph. This vintage sound adds to the creative element heard throughout the album. As she sings she recounts memories that once again seem to come to life with imagery. As these memories come to light, it is evident that “When I’m Older” recounts a loss of love. Despite a relationship fading out through a fall out, this song tells that there are still many stories to tell of love from the relationship. Ashe tells personal stories through her music. This song is a personal reflection on her past relationship that ended in divorce. She confesses that a small sliver of love still remains in the remnants of that past marriage.
Possibly one of Ashe’s most diverse tracks on the album is listed next. “Me Without You” begins immediately with a strong beat and staccato vocals. With simply a five second listen one might interpret the song to be a comeback song. They would be correct. “Me Without You” is a realization that who you are is not tied to the person you lost. Ashe proves to be independent of her past relationship and not afraid to let her true self show in the music video for this song. Ashe is seen literally breaking through doors and dancing all the worries and pain away as she dances on shattered glass on a bar top. The verses carry a haunting tone to them as they paint the story of anger due to being withheld in a relationship, while the chorus is rather springy as it tells the side of discovering a personal growth breakthrough.
“Save Myself” which served as the first non-feature, new release for her album is the sixth song on ‘Ashlyn’. This song recounts the negative side of a relationship. The simple, emphasized piano notes accompany the lyrics perfectly. With lyrics like “poured rain all over my sunny”, “Someday this will all be funny”, “Jumping off your sinking ship instead of going down with it”, and “I shouldn’t blame myself” the picture is painted that going into a relationship one often does not see the red flags. While this song hones in on the negatives it shows that one should never lose their positive perspective even through a difficult situation. Ashe recounts a personalized experience but makes it relatable for others who might have gone through similar relationships.
“Taylor” is the next track, simply titled. Once again, Ashe’s haunting voice takes precedent on this song with a light pick of guitar strings in the background. This song is pointed directly to her past marriage which ended in divorce. She married young and at the hands of a fairly new relationship. The lyrics capture the story of this relationship and how it seemed so perfect at the time. “Tried to tell my mother that it felt like fate, but she brushed it all off and she laughed cause we’re young and in love”. This lyric gives insight that Ashe went through on the whim of love despite others telling her not to rush. An interesting concept, which shows that the doors are not completely closed on this chapter of her life comes into play when she sings “We could meet when we’re thirty-three”. Ashe leaves much to be discussed with “Taylor” but nonetheless gives listeners a heartbreak and love song wrapped in one.
Starting with a flutter of sound is the next song titled “Not Mad Anymore”. The verses appear to orchestrate a ballad before a solid beat occurs on the drum accompanied by a burst of sound. Interesting lyrics ring through in the first verse like “No one makes it out alive, oh no not even Jesus Christ”. This is the only mention of a semi-religious thought on the album. This small lyric is an attention grabber as people will think “she’s right” when they hear it. “Not Mad Anymore” emulates a feeling of overcoming anger to a more go-with-the-flow attitude. Sometimes you have to let life carry you through whatever is in store. This feeling is captured with this song.
The first note of “Always” begins at the last note of “Not Mad Anymore”. Ashe truly captures the sadness that occurs at the realization that someone may be happier without you in their life even if you love them. Her strong voice radiates at the forefront of the chorus. The simple piano track allows the emotion in the lyrics and her voice to tell the story. The chorus is clearly the climax of the song as she sings “I don’t care what people say you know I won’t force you to stay” and “I’ll be okay and I’ll love you always”. Ashe shows her strong vocals throughout the song but especially during the last long note. Anyone who has had to come to terms with one person in the relationship falling out of love can get comfort from this song.
The tenth song is her best known song to date, “Moral of the Story”. This song is the story of her divorce. She details the feeling of pain and remorse being masked by what she thought was love. Oftentimes, moments thought of good memories were actually bad memories forced to see the light. As heard in a previous song, her mother was always weary of her marriage; however, in this song she also reveals her divorce lawyer questioning her decision to marry. Ashe’s response “People fall in love with the wrong people sometimes”. This statement couldn’t be truer. Most people see divorce as the end of the world. Ashe changes the usual connotation by thinking it as an experience one just has to go through to be stronger in the end.
“Serial Monogamist” is the next song on ‘Ashlyn’. In this song the verses hold a country-esque melody which quickly changes to an indie-rock beat in the chorus. She plays with the idea of not wanting to settle and easily cave to the other person’s opinions in a relationship. She applies the concept of doing what is best for the individual in a relationship even if that means leaving. This song is another outlier on the album that adds a balanced contrast.
While Ashe has a tendency to write songs pertaining to her personal romantic relationships, track twelve is the most personal she gets. In “Ryne’s Song” she writes a beautiful ballad for a lost brother and friend. She recounts memories good and bad of the mourning process and the day she found out of his death. In this extremely fragile song she sings of leaving a voicemail for her friend simply thinking he was busy, but a couple hours later received notice that he had died. To bring this part of the song full circle, the end of the track features possibly one of the last voice memos of her friend. This song is sure to speak for itself and bring tears to the listener’s eyes. Ashe’s light voice makes this song hauntingly heartbreaking.
“Kansas” lightens the mood before the ending of the track list. The instrumental melody appears to be pieced together. As the song continues more instruments are added in pieces instead of all at once. The ending of the chorus transforms to a brassy tone just before Ashe’s high notes echo each other singing one word “Time”. This is another one of Ashe’s creative songs that allow her to stray from her usual sound and try something more fun. With a playful tune, she channels more pessimistic lyrics stating that it is only a matter of time until love fails.
The closing track on ‘Ashlyn’ is a rendition of “Moral of the Story” featuring Niall Horan. By creating a duet with the male perspective this song completely transforms to a conversation. The listener then gets both sides to the story making the rendition more diverse lyrically than the original.
Listen to “Ashlyn” here.