November 22nd, 2018

The Same Great Burr (ASHLEE + EVAN, preliminary thoughts)

Preliminary thoughts, after only a few listens, ASHLEE + EVAN EP, Ashlee Simpson & Evan Ross.

GOOD (maybe even GREAT):





"Safe Zone"


"I Want You"


"I Do"

Evan's voice seems anonymously Michaelesque, missing Jackson's tension but with potential to glide and swoop. In "Safe Zone," it's his voice that feels ready to move, while Ashlee is the one who sounds stuck. The other songs, you're relying on Ashlee to provide the personality. "Home" might grow with more listens; I'm wondering what could have been added or rearranged to make it as wonderfully sweet and poignant as, say, Miley Cyrus's "Malibu." "Paris": Ashlee's voice has the same great burr as in the past, and she adds high tones* that are effectively searching and probing, already the sense of a lot happening even though I'm not yet taking in the lyrics. Evan is a sweet steady presence accompanying the search. I think if the other songs had gotten more work they'd all have moved one level up, though I'm not sure what the work should have been (made more stark? given more obstacles? more lift? better tunes?). I've always loved Ashlee's voice: it's not capable of transforming all that it touches, but it contains automatic pain and hope no matter what.

Anyway, if this were a popular music review site, and if people actually visited it, I wouldn't be the one I'd assign to review this EP.** I have such insane love for Ashlee Simpson's Autobiography I have too many unreasonable hopes and expectations and fears around her. Right now I'd give this a B-MINUS overall, but there's one solid A song, and two or three potential growers.

Regarding "Now I'm free, yeah, and the world keeps spinnin round" in "Paris," unfortunately or fortunately, or rather irrelevantly, I keep thinking of the Elaine Stritch line in The Perfect Furlough:

Assistant: We discovered he was gone.
Les Tremayne: He's loose in Paris?
Keenan Wynn: ...Well?
Elaine Stritch: Well... everybody's loose in Paris.

*Actually, I'm assuming it's her on the high tones, but I'm so unused to hearing her sing an upper register I'm not sure it's not some third singer. It does have the same bumps as her usual deep voice, even while high and gentle. In a brief Google search I didn't locate musician credits for the EP.

**[EDIT: "Christgau once warned against assigning a follow-up review to someone who loved the previous record" (link). And yes, there are a couple intervening Ashlee albums after Autobiography: I only got to really know Autobiography after reviewing I Am Me, and I am half-and-half on Bittersweet World (as Xgau'd predict, and I'd probably still be that way now, but I never did review it or rate it), but the hangover from Autobiography is still hanging. New York Dolls and Highway 61 Revisited may be my only other albums that are "sacred" in the way Autobiography is; there are definitely albums I think are better than those three, but I still have trouble putting those three and my old intense love for them in any kind of perspective. (Btw, Xgau himself didn't stop reviewing New York Dolls albums, despite loving one after the other.)]

This entry was originally posted at Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.
  • Current Music
    Ashlee + Evan "Paris"
  • Tags