When you don’t read about her in newspapers and magazines, you hear her name on national (and even international) radio. Teen songstress, Ashlinn Gray, has taken the music industry by storm in the space of a few months since she decided to replace her school books with show rehearsals. One could argue that she just has one heck of a marketing team backing her career, or perhaps it is genuine star quality pushing her forward. We decided to take a closer listen to her self-titled debut EP, in order to offer you an honest verdict.
The local music industry lacks powerful female voices and Ashlinn’s bold debut EP offering aims to aid to this need. The track ‘Risking It All’ kicks off the EP and is Ashlinn’s second single, following up on the highly successful battle cry anthem, ‘Battleships’. The first-mentioned is my personal favourite song on the EP and seems to encompass all that Gray is about: fearless, daring and gutsy. The poppy ‘Battleships’ has a clear commercial appeal and no-one will be able to escape the catchy, sing-a-long elements manifested throughout the song.
The EP takes a slight detour on ‘More Than Nothing’. The track brings out a more tender quality in Gray’s voice, although the music remains pop-orientated. Whereas the first two tracks are all about risks and taking control, the rest of the EP is centered upon relationships and love. Especially ‘Closer Now’ is written out of a very personal, intimate sphere. It is the only track on the EP that gets close to a typical love ballad. The last track on the EP, ‘Sugarcoated Lemons’, is simply too cheesy and airy, weakening the unflinching debut offering in its entirety and giving away Gray’s age.
This well-rounded eponymous debut offering makes me excited about where the pop industry in our country is heading. Gray writes and sings in a sophisticated voice, giving her music a universal, international appeal. Her musical and writing collaboration with the talented Greg Jordan, Wesley Ayliffe and Rudo Pieterse, was a clever move. She is an authentic artist with strong opinions and her sound and image comes across as unforced and natural. Ashlinn Gray is a boundary pusher and is adding a new flavour to a genre that has generally became stale. I look forward to following this young woman’s musical journey.