Ashley J – Satisfied
Ashley J’s EP release Satisfied ensures 2018 will prove one of the more pivotal years in the young singer/songwriter’s life. It’s the full realization of the recent singles she’s released and a mark that her talents are primed to such a point she’s ready to elevate her profile in a way appropriate for someone who’s clearly an upper echelon talent. This is the sort of debut that immediately sets a young talent apart from the pack and it’s clear the musical collaborators she’s enlisted to help realize her musical ambitions are sure of how to best present her vocal and songwriting skills. The five songs on Satisfied show a performer who is far from satisfied – instead, she’s pawing, pushing, extending her boundaries both as an artist and a human being with this vivid release. Ashley J is poised to explode on the mainstream scene as one of the bigger success stories in recent memory and It’s not based on tinsel and empty promotion. Instead, talent once again wins the day with this debut.
The EP’s longest song and certainly darkest, “Trapped” does its best to illustrate the feelings contained with Ashley’s lyric and succeeds wildly. The snap of the song’s percussion contrasts memorably with the synthesizer lines, but the electronica adorning this tune and others never strikes me as empty sound. Instead, it gives a sleek and thoroughly modern veneer to Ashley J’s songs, particularly this first one. Much of Satisfied concerns itself with heartache and how to move past it, but the most eloquent and heartfelt statement in this area comes with the song “Unbreakable”. The song’s poignant and effective chorus is a different high point and, overall, it’s one of the EP’s best put together tunes. The title song comes, as its title implies, from a place of personal satisfaction and Ashley J communicates a potentially complicated emotional landscape with sure handed clarity. The song’s accompaniment, leaning largely on electronica, is equally strong.
The pop and physical energy contained in the song “Like You Used To” pushes back against any melancholy naturally resulting from this tune and there’s a level of density surrounding the song that will appeal to a wide swath of listeners. The EP’s last track “When I Come Home to You” brings a much different sound to bear than we’ve so far experienced with the release. Ashley J’s brief sojourn in Nashville, perhaps, rises up in the acoustic guitar running underneath in the song and her vocal reaches heights we never heard even in the previous songs. It’s a fantastic ending to a strong EP release that brings Ashley J closer than ever to the notoriety and widespread success that’s her due. The five song collection Satisfied never strains to hold our attention and provides this young Orlando, Florida native with an ideal stage to promote her considerable and growing talents. We’ll undoubtedly be hearing more from her and, on the basis of this release, I can barely wait.