Looks Like You've Already Won
Originally released in 2005, this is the second record from Boston-based indie pop duo Ashby. A follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2001 debut Power Ballads, this record expands their sound with intricate multi-layered arrangements, a shimmering widescreen production and great contributions from an array of guest musicians. The opening track "Anyone Anywhere" makes a bright start with a soaring Bacharach-esque horn riff punching out a crisp melody over warm layers of acoustic guitars and strings. Like many songs on the album, the atmospheric instrumentation is offset by hard hitting funky drums played by multi-instrumentalist Bill Cowie, one half of the duo. The icing on the cake is Evelyn Pope's pure, understated and floating voice that somehow manages to sound light and deep at the same time. Richly layered top-notch horn arrangements are a trademark throughout the album courtesy of arranger Jeremy Adelman. The pulsating "Mindset" is a rhythmic tour de force with an insistent backbeat and rolling bassline punctuated by fat vintage keyboards. Key guitar contributions from L.A. session ace John Dragonetti are found all over the album, from the driving electrified rhythm of the soulful closing title track to the moody sway of the cinematic "Cloud Cover" with its John Barry style low flutes, stand up bass and atmospheric lyrics. Check the Brazilian styled '70s funk of "Getting Started" with its addictive groove and offbeat horns. Or the spikey woodwinds, groovy vibraphone and raw clavinet chop of "Troublemaker" featuring the stellar flute of New York City-based Brazilian arranger Zé Luis (Bebel Gilberto, Brazilian Girls, Ivy). The album closes with "He Likes The Sound," a song that contrasts a lush verse with a raspy, new wave disco style chorus and funky wah-wah guitars.