Exclusive ND First Spin: Ashleigh Flynn - 'A Million Stars'

Portland-based singer-songwriter Ashleigh Flynn has been earning her way up the folk/roots/Americana totem pole for years, playing her heart out in cities around the country. Like many on the Portland scene, Flynn seems to pull from a bottomless source of inspiration - including bluegrass, country, and folk, but also indie rock and other styles - to fashion songs which are as heartfelt as they are both fun and heartbreaking.

For her latest disc, A Million Stars, she teamed up with Americana darling Todd Snider (with whom she's toured quite a bit) as well as fellow Portlander Chris Funk - best known for his work with the Decemberists and Black Prairie, among others. 

Like her collaborators, Flynn seems to have an appreciation for the genre-defiant approach to songwriting. Her songs are stories first. That they're backed by occasionally dark, occasionally rollicking instrumentals depends on what the songs themselves call for. Sure, her Kentucky roots are always showing, but "Prohibition Rose" swings with a subtle Vaudeville style, while "The West Was Won" sounds like it could have come off a Juliana Hatfield disc.  

You can listen for yourself to the stream below and see what you think. The disc drops on Flynn's own Home Perm Records next Tuesday, May 14, 2013. We'd like to give away free copies to three lucky ND members. To enter, simply comment on this post and let us know what you like best about this album. We'll pick three commenters at random and send them a copy of the disc. You have until 11:59 PST on Monday, May 13, to enter. Anyone is welcome to enter but the CD's must be sent to a US address.

According to the press release: 

Flynn’s fourth studio effort on her own Home Perm Records, is produced by Chris Funk, her longtime friend and musical collaborator, best-known as the Decemberists’ multi-instrumentalist. The record features Todd Snider and many of Portland’s most talented musicians including, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee-Drizos, Nate Query, John Moen, Annalisa Tornfelt, and the Stolen Sweets singers, among others.

A Million Stars continues the inspired narrative Flynn began on earlier records with tales deeply rooted in the American experience. The most profound seed of inspiration for the new record was a watercolor painted by her young niece depicting a cowgirl atop her horse under a starry desert sky. Who was this girl so confidently astride her mount? Calamity Jane? Surely there were others like her? Discovering the painting led her on a quest to learn more about the women of the westward expansion, unnamed heroes that history had largely overlooked.

Listen up and let us know what you think, and you'll automatically be entered to win a copy of the disc. Enjoy!

Views: 707

Comment by David Jordan on May 7, 2013 at 3:57am

The allusion to Butcher Hollow in the second track provoked fond memories of Loretta Lynn on my parent's record player during my childhood. My favorite bit, however, has to be the tuba.

Comment by Jonathan Flynn on May 7, 2013 at 5:54am

The music is great, but I really love her name.

Comment by Mark Rosen on May 7, 2013 at 5:58am

I'm struck by how dissimilar each song is from one another. That's a compliment.

Comment by Amos Perrine on May 7, 2013 at 8:39am

Sweet! Another contender.

Comment by Kevin J Hinsey on May 7, 2013 at 12:56pm

Great album, another to add to my collection...and I need to check her other music

Comment by Patricia Raicht on May 8, 2013 at 2:56pm

Ashleigh is an amazing songwriter, singer and story-teller.   Her 4th album has been well worth the wait.  If you have not heard her previous albums...go find them.  She is a true treasure!

Comment by Allan Ceran on May 9, 2013 at 4:50pm

Saw her at McCabe's in Santa Monica (with Black Prairie) and she played a bunch of these songs.  They're great on the album too!

Comment by Dennis McGough on May 10, 2013 at 3:22am

I think there is a real confidence running through this CD that may have been lacking a little on her previous recordings. Ashleigh has one of the prettiest voices around today. An excellent effort!

Comment by Patrick Daly on May 10, 2013 at 6:49am

Heard you for the first time on OPB 5/9 then listened to the album all the way through- loved it! Can't wait for the release!  Looking forward to seeing you live some time in the future.

Comment by No Depression on May 16, 2013 at 5:01pm

Congrats to our three winners who were chosen at random- David Jordan, Mark Rosen and Patricia Raicht

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.