The time prior to an album release is kind of like being a kid a few days before Christmas. It’s not lost on me that that analogy is a bit silly considering I’m nearly 50, but it speaks volumes about my love of music and its effect on me. I’ve had this experience recently on the 40th Anniversary release of Rush’ Permanent Waves and Slipknot’s We Are Not Your Kind. And now, I’m completely chuffed about a release from a musician I only learned about a year and a half ago.
When I heard Ashton Nyte on A Beauty in Chaos‘ release Finding Beauty in Chaos, I was blown away. He was featured on Storm, which he re-envisioned and somehow made better, Bloodless and Fragile, and Finding Beauty in Chaos. I immediately searched his catalog and dug in. I found that he has 19 studio albums since 1997 both solo and in his band the Awakening. The albums are eclectic wavering between goth rock, post punk rock, straight up rock, and a little folk. As a listener, it’s exciting because you aren’t sure what you might get, other than brilliance. In the past few years, Ashton gave us a more upbeat, post punk album in Some Kind of Satellite ( and my favorite Ashton song Halo in the Dirt) and a seriously rocking song, Back to Wonderland, on the Awakening’s release Chasm.
Side Note: I wish I was aware of the Awakening in 2000. The Dark Romantics is a song that could make me visually remember where and when I first heard it.
So, that brings us to Waiting for a Voice. As I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect. His last two records, both solo and with Awakening, were a bit more upbeat. This one, like his live Facebook show, is more intimate and more poetic. That isn’t to detract from those other releases, it’s just that this one from a musical perspective, ethereal lyrics and visuals from the album and book lend itself to a soul baring bit of poetry.
Waiting for a Voice -The album opens with a short, melodic and sad song. It’s beautiful and haunting. The speaker speaks desperately to the ocean and a tearful willow waiting for a voice. It’s interesting to note the beauty surrounding him, yet he chases horizons- those things out of reach rather than reveling in what is. Perhaps, our speaker is at the beginning of a journey and is still a bit lost.
Ocean Song– Ocean Song opens with a groovy guitar and fingers sliding on the strings. The intimate nature of the song is clearly on display here as the instruments are stripped down allowing us to sit in the room with Ashton. This one is interesting in that in the album opener, he is listeneing for a voice, but here he is surrounded by voices. He needs to accept what they are saying. We can’t wait on what is not there.
This Isolation– This one opens with some beautiful guitar work with Ashton crooning over the top. It’s a sad song that offers hope. “Standing at the edge, but the story never ends.” I love that notion and the true poetic nature of those words can be used in any facet of our lives. That is the mark of an effective poet.
Has Anybody Seen My Love– Ashton begins singing here with a slight beat and chime in the background. As the first verse ends and the chorus begins, the song picks up with a heavily pronounced guitar. “My days of blurry echoes and with empty nights. The morning holds no promise without a light.” Ashton’s word play on this record is so clever. He is painting with broad strokes here so the listener can connect in a more personal way. I get the feeling that there is a very personal message here, but our message isn’t taken from us.
Dark Star– This one is a definite groover. It has a catchy guitar and vocal melody. The percussion kicks in and immediately invokes head nodding or foot tapping. Ashton’s vocals ebb and flow before a very cool keyboard-like string effect kicks in and takes this one to another level. “Dark Star in the sky, I wanted to be you. Your silent glow is so removed from the things I need to prove, from the cracks below the truth.” I’m not sure what the inspiration is here, but again, the speaker here seems to be looking outside of himself for answers. This motif is apparent throughout the album; sometimes the answers are out there and sometimes inside. The enigmatic nature will keep me guessing for a while.
I Asked For Nothing– This is a departure from the last song. It has a much more folksy feel. We continue our trip through nature. A man is washing his soul in the fountain. Again, nature may hold the key to our happiness or fulfillment. My favorite line on the album, or any other album I have heard recently appears in this song, “And there’s the truth meets pain, for comfort. We talk in rhyme just to prove we believe.” Paradoxically- I love this. Best song on the record.