Greg Ashley’s new record, Another Generation of Slaves, is a dark and bittersweet collection, one that carries a fully formed narrative force from beginning to end. And yet, it’s also two-faced, as much a darkly comic send-up of melancholy tunes as it is steeped it its own high lonesome sound. It moves from the spacious shuffling melancholy of “East Texas Plain” and “Medication #7” to the id and edge of “Brother Raymond” and Awkward Affections”. The former songs, that embed their humor and pathos deep within the honeyed shadows of their music, feel more nuanced than the up-front snarl of the former tracks.
The best of these early tracks set up the personal sketches of “Prisoner #1131267” and other solid songs that close the record. In the end, the mix of sadness and zeal here is strongest when you’re not sure which is which, and Ashley is sometimes a master at crafting seemingly fragile structures that sneak up on you with their power. The subtleties here overcome the more strident moments, and Another Generation of Slaves becomes an overall solid album, a thematic set that glides bittersweetly over you and makes sure to catch you with a barb every once in a while.