Earthy grit. Rootsy and soft. A distinct voice. At its core, Ashley Riley’s music is best described as sophisticated indie/Americana. There’s a dreamy quality to the songs, yet lyrically they capture the essence of the more honest moments of our days: those seemingly ordinary moments that suddenly take your breath away or make you weak in the knees, those moments that prove to us that oftentimes the most extraordinary moments are found in our everyday lives. Riley has been slowly chipping away at her upcoming album, taking a slightly different approach.
After her EP release in 2017 half of her band moved away and Ashley went back to her acoustic songwriting roots. Riley says, "I went back into my own little shell of singer songwriter-ness, and started enjoying that space again. After awhile I wanted to capture some of the songs and felt like I had an opportunity to be a blank slate again.." Ashley reached out to James Treichler at Wave Upon Wave and headed into the studio in early 2019. Since then she's been working with James and dialing in the sound for the upcoming album, expected early 2021. "It's been an interesting process, really digging in and choosing the palette for each song. I didn't realize how heavily I relied on different players in my previous band to help pull out the sound, and it's been really fun to step into that role more fully myself."
Riley has been a staple in the music scene of her hometown Long Creek, IL, where she got her start hosting open mics in the Decatur area around 2008, helping to revitalize and nurture the underground singer-songwriter scene in town. After starting as an acoustic-based songwriter on her first record, Riley realized by her second album that her songs begged for a band, and her subsequent albums got the full-band treatment to glowing reviews.
New Noise Magazine called her “one of the best obscure female artists I've heard in, well, ever,” and In- Forty.com declared her a “female songstress everyone would be wise to spend time with.” Women of Substance Radio noted: “Ashley's songs have an ethereal and delicate quality... Her reverence for Americana artists like Neil Young and Patty Griffin is unmistakable. She pens lyrics that are unsettling and sometimes even disturbing, as all good lyrics should be.” Illinois Entertainer trumpeted: “Make no mistake, Ashley Riley has an utterly gorgeous voice and a sound all her own.” Seven of the nine songs on her third album, All The Pretty Things, can be heard in rotation on Starbucks in-store airplay.
Riley's latest single, Close to Me, is a sneak preview of what she's been working on lately. Close to Me won the Midwest Music Expo listening panel in May of 2020 so Ashley decided it was high time to put it out into the universe. "This year, as we all can attest, has been sad and strange and full of challenges.. what can you really say?! We've all had to adjust and figure out how to keep moving forward, what can take a backseat, and what we can let go of altogether. I really wanted to put out something that feels good and Close to Me is that song for me. It's got a nice groove to it, although it does make me laugh that I'm releasing a song titled Close to Me when we all are supposed to stay at least 6 feet apart."