‘Restless Love’ shows how Tommy Ashby is a master storyteller, who knows how to write fantastic guitar-pop. Ashby is definitely one to watch.
Tommy Ashby is starting to see the fruits of his labour. In May of this year, the Scottish singer-songwriter played to a crowd of 200,000 people as a guitarist with Jamie Lawson supporting Ed Sheeran at the Eithad Arena. This taste of mainstream success is a far-cry from his humble beginnings playing music in his father’s traditional blues band and touring Scotland. Ashby creates his music in his bedroom-studio set up. His rise to the upper echelons of music is fast gaining pace, and if his latest EP ‘Restless Love’ is anything go by, the trajectory is only going to be upwards from now on.
The title track is one that would fit perfectly in that arena set-up. Ashby clearly knows how to write music for a big audience, as ‘Restless Love’ shows the artist mix his traditional folk sound with mighty drums and epic choruses, a formula that has worked perfectly for many before him, but for Ashby, his unique, enchanting Scottish drawl adds an extra layer of individuality that is bound to make waves in acoustic music. This song follows a traditional pop song-structure, and sees Ashby sing of a relationship going sour, a universality that could appeal to anyone listening to this fantastic track.
On third track ‘Solace’, Ashby takes his roots in blues music and combines it again with a modern pop sound. Just like ‘Restless Love’, this is a sound that has brought great success before for many artists. Big, bombastic drums fill the track, while a soulful chorus of singers give the track grandeur and an epic atmosphere that grabs the listener’s attention immediately. This is immediate, powerful music, that has worked before in the pop world, and is bound to work again for Ashby. Yet, the song is only one minute and thirty seconds.
And that is the joy to be had from Ashby and this EP. For many people, this is an EP that can be taken on a surface level, an acoustic pop vignette that provides just the right amount of charm and joy on a couple of listens. But, the true heart and artistry exists on the moments of eclectic genius that exists on this EP.
Take lead single ‘Bowlegged’. Ashby spoke in depth about this track with us previously (read here for more), but the track is so detailed and weaves such spellbinding imagery that it would be foolish to not talk about it here. Ashby’s lyricism truly shines on this track, his tale of the last of mankind speaking to God about his flaws and blemishes, leaving a despairing God with no answer or hope. This is bleak imagery. Combine that with esoteric guitar harmonies and jagged notes, and ‘Bowlegged’ becomes a song that is worthy of detailed critique and scrutiny, a track that moves past the glitz and glamour of pop.
It should come as no surprise that Tommy Ashby has this in his locker. As a teen, he spent days and days pouring over his parents’ record collections, listening to the great storytellers of American music, such as Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel. Ashby is a student of music, and ‘Restless Love’ is his groundbreaking thesis.