NIGEL FOSTER: A DAY IN THE LIFE
A tough very frustrating day to reflect on at work as I sit here. Am I suppressed and a little down. Absolutely not because my spirits have been lifted high on the gentle waves created in my mind and ears on my first listen of the very lovely album 'A Thousand Shores' from the equally lovely Ayesha.
From the opening lilting pedal steel flourishes and airy melody of the album opener 'Sky's on Fire' through to the closing notes of the glorious Dashboard Jesus I have sat here with a growing smile on my face and warm glow inside and as I look at the fading sun dropping in the sky I am happy!!
This truly is a wonderful surprise of an album a fine collection of 10 original Ayesha compositions taking in ballads, rootsy Americana, a little funk and some Latino licks. The lady is a serious talent, possessing a terrific voice, clear song writing skills and the ability to arrange and co-produce. Impressive CV to present on a debut album.
The musicianship that underpins every tune is nothing short of first class and that came as no surprise as I noted the band are in effect The Mark Pontin Group. Pontin too demonstrates his virtuosity, hear him with his band and he is a firebrand of a Blues player. Here he excels on electric and acoustic guitars playing with great fluidity and deftness. The rhythm section of Chris Baglole and Alun Walters carry every tune along in the right gear and key and keeping it in the family, Ayesha's Godftaher provides some lovely work on keys and sublime playing of that haunting instrument, a Lap Pedal Steel Guitar.
The absolute standout track for me is the closing epic ballad, 'Dashboard Jesus.' An intensely emotional song on which Ayesha pours out a torn delicate vocal accompanied by soft key strokes and a melancholic flurry from Pontin threaded through the depths of the melody.
Ashes of a Man is another highlight, the vocal and lyrics pleading and hurt matched by a haunting and hot solo from Pontin.
Seventh Wind could become an Americana clarion call, it is energetic, light and airy and infectiously catchy. Terrific melody laid down by the rhythm section and Pontin strumming with speed and flex on the acoustic guitar and some pawing Pedal Steel slide playing.
There is more variety in the funk of NO7 and the Latino beats of Buenas Noches From Paradise.
A veritable treat of an album that has become my friend in one evening. As I would like to regard Ayesha, a friend after she kindly gifted me the album after we had a wonderful chat with partner Mark at his band's show at the 100 Club last week. Lovely talented people who deserve success.
If tempted by what you have read head to Ayesha's website and explore some more, you will be rewarded: www.ayeshamusic.co.uk
LIZ AIKEN: BLUES DOODLES
This is a debut album full of verve and style from Ayesha a mistress of the song who exudes musical warmth and character with every note she sings and plays. Ayesha on ‘A Thousand Shores’ has created an album that will delight lovers of music, look past genres the industry love to box people in this album is fresh with a country feel, a swish of soul and a generous helping of the blues. It’s a cocktail of delights with the right balance of sweet, sour and spice creating a listening delight, truly music for your ears.
It is the songs lyrics and Ayesha’s vocal interpretations of her 10 self-penned tracks that are the stars of the show. The title track should be getting loads of mainstream airplay as the guitar and vocals play games with each other and the lyrics flow and swell on the tide. This is an album full of sparkling gems, with every track included for a reason there is no filling in space and Ayesha tells me there are plenty more songs for the future.
If you need to escape your daily reality then sit back close your eyes and listen to ‘Buenas Noches From Paradise’ and you will be transported to a land full of warmth and latino rhythms; whilst ‘No.7’ with its fabulous intro of keys, drums and guitar, followed by a sultry Ayesha that is saucy with a hint of jazz mimicked by a delightful guitar lick. If it is a guitar-driven track that you want then look no further than ‘Seventh Wind’ and lyrics that get you humming or even singing along if you have the vocal dexterity and range! This is an album that spans the spectrum of your soul and demonstrates the immense repertoire of musical shapes and tones Ayesha delivers with comfort, charm and passion.
My personal favourite is ‘Ashes Of A Man’, the most bluesy of the tracks which has the sorrow of a country track and the balance between band and vocals is spot-on. This is a beautifully produced album that should be getting loads of airplay.
A Thousand Shores Album Reviews