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Second Skin
Artist: Ashley Cleveland
Label: 204 Records
Tracks: 13/52:24

It has been four years since Ashley's last release, 1998's live collection entitled You Are There. Her last studio venture was 1995's Lesson of Love. Any and all usurpers beware because this rock queen is back once again to rightfully reclaim her throne.  Second Skin is just good old get up, tap your feet and dance around the room rock n roll. Listening to this release makes me wish that she was one of those artists that release albums every year, it is just that good. Throaty vocals, searing guitar licks and an excellent rhythm section make this an offering that you can't afford to be without.

Of the thirteen cuts on the album she wrote or co-wrote ten of them, The other three are cover of tunes by Tom Waits, John Hiatt and Neil Young. The project was produced by guitar master Kenny Greenberg and features some of the best players around. Chris McHugh, Eric Darken, Matt Rowlings are just a few among a host of fine players. Vicki Hampton and Bekka Bramlett are also on hand to lend vocal expertise. I first saw Ashley back in '91 on a tour she did opening up for REO Speedwagon and have been hooked ever since then. Anyone who has seen her in concert knows that is a woman who is passionate about her music. This passion not only is evident in her live performances but carries over to her studio work as well. Song topics on this collection run the gamut from the loss of a friend,"The Needle and the Damage Done" to dealing with the cares of everyday life, "Land of the Living" to a yearning for the comfort of the future, "Jesus Gonna Be Here". 

If you are an old fan, then this is a welcome back to an old friend. If you are a first timer then welcome to Ashleyville, its a great place to spend some time.

Chris MacIntosh aka Grandfather Rock 4/3/2002



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