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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Dan Ashley

Out There

Review by Gary Hill

How you feel about mainstream rock music and particularly Bruce Springsteen will probably impact your impressions of this album. Dan Ashley and band have produced a collection of songs that really do live in a pretty middle of the road rock zone. Ashley vocals (and even the songwriting) often makes me think of Springsteen. There are some really magical tunes on here, but not any that are particularly bad. The bulk land sort of in the mid-zone, but those peaks really are special.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
River City
An energetic rocking sound is on display on the introduction. The musical arrangement drops back for the entrance of the vocals. Those vocals make me think of Bruce Springsteen.
Redbud Road
Another classy rocker, there are some Americana elements here. There is almost a punky DIY aspect to this, as well. This has some solid hooks. I can also hear some of that Springsteen thing here.
Nothing Now
Now this elevates things. There is a blues rocking angle to this. I dig the guitar fills on the tune a lot. This is one of my favorite tunes here for certain.
What Really Matters
This doesn't work as well. That said, the chorus is among the best of the disc. There is a DIY sort of feeling to some of the other parts of this that doesn't seem to gel as well for me.
Lucky Stars
Piano brings this one in. The cut starts out from there as a balladic piece, built on a piano and guitar arrangement. It becomes more of a power ballad as it continues to evolve.
Da Na Na Na Na
A faster-paced jam, this rocker is another that calls to mind Springsteen to a large degree.
Better Life
This isn't a big change. It's a solid tune, but not a standout by any means.
Out There
Now, this is a big improvement. A hard driving rocker, the title track is probably the best tune here. It's a real stomper with great hooks and a lot of style.
Feel the Heat
Here we get another that's more of a hard rocker. While not as effective as the track it follows, it lands in the stronger half of the set.
We Stayed Home
Another from the Springsteen school, this is good. It's just a bit too like the rest of the music here. It doesn't really stand out at all.
Now and Then
More of a balladic angle is on display here. This is another that feels a bit like an "also ran" to me.
 
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