The Adirondacks are known for their mountains and beautiful scenic views, but soon they are going to be known for being from where singer-songwriter Ashley Sofia hails. Her new album Shades of Blue dropped on September 6 and is definitely something folk enthusiasts should look into. She not only holds the sole songwriting credit on every track, but also takes inspiration from her travels across America and her own family history to create this unique album in a time when uniqueness is becoming harder and harder to find. With 13 original tracks, the album builds off of Sofia’s Adirondack roots and Nashville sound where she is currently living, writing and recording music.
The album starts with the track “Slowing Down” which has an eerie violin introduction which bleeds into a soft plucking guitar that builds into Sofia’s vocals stepping out from nowhere. It’s an unarguably folksy sound with Sofia’s ‘just so slight’ country twang that creates a beautiful, and slightly haunting, song that will stick with the listener as feeling familiar yet unknown at the same time just like its subject matter: love. It keeps with the folksy feel while also keeping a bare bones track with just vocals, guitar and violin occasionally dropping by that fits with the bittersweet lyrics.
The track that stuck out the most was “Tangerine and Blue” with the upbeat and full band accompanying the strikingly opposing colors in the song’s name and chorus. “Tangerine and Blue” mirrors the conflicted feelings about leaving that Sofia is singing about within it. There’s something about Sofia’s lyrics that keep her songs fresh even though they are revolving around cliche’ and typical topics. They don’t come off that way though because of her word choices that create vibrant visuals for the listener.
Some of Shades of Blue was hard to really connect with. She has a lot of songs with American tropes like freedom, and dreams, which paired with the country folk sound but wasn’t really my thing. But her song “Looking For America” redeems this aspect of her work for me. It’s not all “rah rah rah” America, it focuses on how America isn’t how it should be. This isn’t something I usually come across in country-influenced folk music. The song revolves around how the American dream isn’t something that’s realistic and how she’s looking for the America she wants to believe in which was refreshing to see within this genre.
Ashley Sofia wasn’t someone on my radar before but she definitely is now. Her take on folk country isn’t one that has been overplayed and has lyrical integrity and uniqueness with groovy tracks that build up perfectly which keeps the listener coming back to listen to Shades of Blue over and over again. For more information visit Ashley Sofia’s website.
Key Tracks: Tangerine and Blue, Looking for America