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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Manchester-Based Guitarist & Singer-Songwriter Ashley Sherlock Releases Debut Album 'Just A Name'

By Stevie Connor. Photo Credit: Charlotte Wellings.

Guitarist and singer songwriter, Ashley Sherlock has released, “Dear Elizabeth,” the second single taken from his debut album “Just A Name.”

“Dear Elizabeth is probably one of our favourite songs off the record,” says Ashley. “It’s a song about realizing your mistakes when sometimes it’s too late.”

All roads lead to Manchester. Northern Britain’s cultural powerhouse spits out a great band every ten years. Get ready for Ashley Sherlock’s highly anticipated debut album “Just A Name” released by Ruf Records.

On the move, on the make, armed with a beat-up Stelfox electric guitar, a hot knife of a voice and a pocketful of hooks, the acclaimed Mancunian singer-songwriter, and his telepathic blues-rock power trio, have already packed-out iconic venues and pricked up influential ears.

“The band started about four years ago,” reflects Ashley. “That’s when I found the dynamic rhythm section of Charlie Rachael Kay on bass and Danny Rigg on drums.”

Continues Ashley, “I’d just come home from a trip to Nashville and was booked to play an event. I was persuaded by the promoter to get a band together for that one show – and they just stuck around! Now, we’re one hundred per cent a family. I love those guys to bits.”

Ashley is no stranger to the UK live circuit. In the past 12 months’ he’s supported the likes of Kris Barras Band, The Quireboys and Laurence Jones.

Ashley has released two acclaimed EPs with 2019’s self-titled “Ashley Sherlock,” followed by 2021’s “If You’re Listening.” In 2022, he was nominated for UK Blues Federation’s Young Blues Artist of the Year. He’s even had airplay on the New Rock Show on Planet Rock, and beyond.

Louder Than War praised Sherlock by saying, “Ashley’s music will put a big stupid grin on your face,” while Get Ready to Rock professed, “his music will leave you wanting more.”

Now signed to Ruf Records, Ashley’s debut album “Just A Name,” hopes that you won’t forget his. “The writing and sense of melody has grown on this record and it’s an honest representation of our live sound,” says Ashley.

“A lot of these songs are about love gained and lost, personal growth, observations of times in my life,” says Ashley.

Plush studios aren’t their style. Instead, Ashely and his bandmates beat a path to Manchester’s Hallam Mill to record the new album in the dead of winter where they rubbed sparks off each other. “The whole recording process was a real learning experience,” says Ashley.

“We spent four solid days in December in the attic of this old English cotton mill, recording this album mostly live for ten hours a day. It was freezing and we’d huddle around a small heater for warmth between takes. We had a real blast, though, and it brought us all closer, while helping us gain a mutual understanding of the song’s context and how to deliver it best to the listener.”

Blues might be a centuries-old genre, but it doesn’t have to run on autopilot. As you’d hope from a modern songwriter whose influences include Guns N’ Roses, The Cadillac Three, Dire Straits, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jeff Buckley, the songs on “Just A Name” twist and turn with a salute to soul, pop, hard rock and more.

Never taking the easy option of a twelve-bar trudge, every song on the new album makes its own distinct mark. It’s hard to choose your favourite.

Opening track “Trouble” is a sweet and sour rocker, announcing both Ashley’s gravity-defying falsetto and a guitar touch that builds storm cloud riffs towards a fret flaying solo. The raw jangle of “Realise” is edgy and urgent, while “Goodbye To You” embodies stabbed chords and sudden silences invite plenty of drama.

When Ashley slows things down, the music’s just as powerful. He demonstrates this on “I Think She Knows” which is rueful and reflective.

“Our Love” is delicate as angel hair, worthy of comparison to Jeff Buckley’s “Grace.” Rolling with a rhythm that feels like a Wild West covered wagon, “Time” isn’t quite like anything else on the radio. “Empty Street” starts as an intimate moment, the singer-songwriter singing in our ear, before building to a soaring chorus that could rock the mainstream.

“I wrote that song during lockdown at 5am, in my bathroom, of all places,” laughs Ashley. “The acoustics were good! “Empty Street” talks about a conversation with yourself about the good and bad side of a personality and understanding that sometimes in life, it is what it is.”

Opening with a Jeff Beck-worthy shiver of electric guitar, “Dear Elizabeth” is a plea to a lost friend, described by Ashley as “effectively a letter to someone I knew”, and topped with an epic solo.

“Last Call” aches with the embers of a relationship that can’t be salvaged. “That’s about how sometimes, no matter how hard anyone tries, it’s just not meant to be,” says Ashley. “The ‘last call’ is a common phrase in bar and venue slang, meaning time’s up. It’s a metaphor for the failing relationship and it’s time to start anew.”

Ashley Sherlock – remember that name when “Just A Name” was released June 16th. Today, Manchester, tomorrow the world.



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