Ashley Daneman possesses a truly beautiful highly trained voice. Following self-education as a vocalist in the workaday world, she abandoned the desk job route of endless repetitive travail and in 2003 entered the music world, earning praise from USA Today and others. Some people, however, are destined for a path with profound pitfalls, and she found herself suddenly undergoing a harrowing multi-year struggle with a severe case of delayed-onset PTSD. Time passed and, returning to the business world while recovering, she made her way as a 29-year old mother, then once more took leave of office work, winning a Masters program scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music. Divorce next worked its way into the picture, then single motherhood, but Daneman persevered and graduated, more than impressive enough in 2010 to be invited to the Banff Centre's Jazz & Creative Workshop for composers.
Marrying an MSM attendee, trumpeter Benje Daneman, the two decided the time had come and thus initiated a successful Kickstarter campaign to get Beauty Indestructible in gear. For a debut, it's astonishingly accomplished in all aspects. Not only is the melodious and inventive singer a talented writer but a skilled arranger as well, frequently recalling Joni Mitchell, one of her foundation influences. I also catch Van Morrison's Inarticulate Speech period quite a bit. In fact, the CD starts off with a Pee Wee Ellis trumpet riff, and there are a lot of entrancing repeating patterns everywhere. Perhaps the most interesting trait, though, is the fusion of folk and jazz modes interlocking almost indistinguishably, each mode flowing in and out of the other.
Benje unleashes himself as Here Comes a Body reaches its peak just before the band subsides into a pastoral pensée, Where No One's Ever Lost, Ashley in jazzy larksong mode, capturing afterthoughts and essences, continuing the drop into sonorously soulful balladics, sketches of Roberta Flack and Minnie Riperton rising and falling, Daneman backgrounding as her own choir. The Forest's Virgin Tree finishes the CD in dominantly adult lullabye fashion with dream-state interludes edging incipiently into nightmare territory—until the song ends just like the cessation of an REM deep sleep state. I cited this disc as one of the 2014's Top 30 'cause I heard it in December and didn't want to wait a year before I could laud it. One listen will tell you why.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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