Ashley Monroe
Like a Rose


3.0
good

Review

by Alex Robertson STAFF
March 12th, 2013 | 28 replies | 4,626 views


Release Date: 03/05/2013 | Tracklist


It’s hard not to root for Ashley Monroe. Two years after agonizingly shoving her debut Satisfied (2009) into a belated release on Columbia Records, with whom she had parted ways in 2007, the determined country singer finally caught a break working with the hugely popular Miranda Lambert and fellow minor artist Angeleena Presley as Pistol Annies. That group’s Hell on Heels (2011) was one of the best albums of its year, both deeply thoughtful and relentlessly catchy. It was also a showcase for Monroe’s previously unexposed skills as a singer and a songwriter; she co-wrote seven of the album’s ten songs and sang lead on the wonderful ballad “Beige”. The album didn’t propel her to a stardom equal to Lambert’s--still the most prominent presence on that album--but seemed a sign of great things to come.

Now we have Like a Rose, Monroe’s first album since her botched debut, and the prophecy seems...well, kind of fulfilled, but in unexpectedly disappointing ways. Monroe is still a talented singer, convincingly emulating many of her peers’s vocal slides and affectations if not their lusty vigor. Her songwriting chops are intact as well; each song feels whittled away until it remains as lean and melodic as possible. She even retains Hell on Heels’s refreshing brevity: there are only nine songs here, each of them hovering around the three-minute mark.

Yet there’s a decidedly meager quality to the light guitar scrapes and melodies that compose the backbone of Like a Rose, and Monroe’s compliance in hitting all the aesthetic marks expected of her soon becomes the album’s biggest flaw. Opener “Like a Rose” features some strikingly candid lyrics by Monroe (“I was only 13 when Daddy died / Momma started drinkin’ and my brother just quit tryin’”) but not much else, almost aggravating in its wispy simplicity. That delicacy becomes a motif throughout the album’s surprisingly quiet duration (only “Weed Instead of Roses” and “Monroe Suede” rise above the hush), and after a while her insistence on a low-key atmosphere starts to seem like a defense mechanism--as if unexceptional songwriting can be sublimated simply by a low volume.

Although there exist exceptions, like the gorgeous “Used” (in which Monroe drops this corker: “Used, like a house where a family lived until they died and there’s a soul in every room”), the record as a whole slithers into a sort of unsatisfying middle ground. Her skills are present exactly where we want them, but the record falls short for that exact same reason. This is Monroe’s moment; is it too much to ask that she extend her reach from where it’s always been?



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user ratings (7)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


aw shit ladies and gents it's country time

this record somehow maintains an astonishing 96 on metacritic (albeit with only four reviews) and though i'm a week or two late it would be awesome if this could be my entry into the fucking-up-albums's-ratings-on-metacritic fold

seriously though, check out hell on heels. it is really awesome

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 12th 2013



6734 Comments


Saw the album cover, figured it was a Sowing review. Wrong again lol

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


i just looked at it and by my estimation the cover looks exactly like the album sounds so that should probably turn 90% of the userbase away

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



7160 Comments


Dude I wanted to review it.

Nah just kidding.

Digging: Lord Mantis - Death Mask

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 12th 2013



6734 Comments


I don't know. 14yr old males on the internet, pretty blond, you never know ; ]

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



9991 Comments


so this is 92 on rym's hip-hop list? seems odd

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


klap listen to hell on heels

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



9991 Comments


i will haven't heard any sweet country lately

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


three ratings on this site

dismal

the first half of the album is like way better than the second but w/e

breakingthefragile
March 12th 2013



2935 Comments


You're killing me Alex.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


surprised you like this so much, it seems at best minor to me i guess

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 12th 2013



48524 Comments


Never heard of this hmm

Digging: More Than Life - What's Left Of Me

Gyromania
March 12th 2013



14647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

will check out hell on heels if it comes highly recommended.

i read this earlier and decided to take a listen, even though i'm not much of a country enthusiast. basically, these two lines of yours sum up my biggest problem with this album:

almost aggravating in its wispy simplicity


the record as a whole slithers into a sort of unsatisfying middle ground


this album is basically middle-of-the-road for me as well. there are some really great moments, but even those moments are oft times lacking substance. it's pretty and all but it kind of just passes by me. weed instead of roses is a fun song though

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


hell on heels is basically this but better

the production on here is a lil too prettified for me but basically yeah, the rockin/fun tracks on this are improved upon by pistol annies and the pretty tracks on that album are really fantastic. beige is just too good

plus the album is barely 30 minutes

this is still a pretty good listen, i like used and the morning after a lot

Gyromania
March 12th 2013



14647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

prettified - i like that word!

the prettier moments on this are nice to listen to but basically it's one of those things that i wouldn't change it if it came on, but i wouldn't actively seek it out.

taking a listen to that pistol annies album now

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2013



14884 Comments


as i said to klap it sorta drops off in the second half but the first five or so sogns are mmm mm good

Muikuli
March 12th 2013



180 Comments


Her eyes look weird. Not very hot imo.

Ecnalzen
March 13th 2013



5848 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Ugh, we started playing this at my work, and I kinda, sorta hated it. I can usually tolerate country (except for stuff like Eric Church), but I couldn't find much enjoyment here.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2013



8950 Comments


I clicked on this because I was intrigued by the album cover

Digging: Phantogram - Voices

NonApplicable
March 14th 2013



1826 Comments


*Looks at album art

Jenna Maroney(30 Rock) finally put out an album?



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