Some might say Manchester’s musical golden age is a thing of the past, but it’s definitely (maybe) time for a new kid on the block. Enter the fray Ashley Sherlock — the latest Manc muso, guitar slinger, and singer-songwriter to emerge from the same factory as Oasis, The Hollies, The Stone Roses, et al. Manchester is also famous for being the birthplace of the industrial revolution in Great Britain — a trick not lost on Ashley and his bandmates.
Shipping the recording of his debut LP Just A Name to the attic of an old English cotton mill, Sherlock and his dynamic rhythm section of Charlie Rachel Kay on bass and Danny Rigg on drums have weaved a dozen tracks that take the fabric of the blues and spin it into a dazzling array of threads.
A telepathic blues-rock trio with a stable full of horsepower, they also expertly engineer AOR ballads, hard rock, pop, soul, and more. Given Sherlock’s influences expand from Guns ‘N’ Roses to The Cadillac Three and Jeff Buckley, it’s an album a waterway away from the modern-day torchbearers championing the sound of blues rock, but that doesn’t mean Sherlock is just a name destined to be lost in the industrial wreckage.
Rocker “Trouble” serves as the album’s introduction, with a crashing drum and heavy bass sound layered under Sherlock’s dicey yet dishy falsetto. It’s also our first glimpse into his guitar prowess, which is more than capable of weathering the storm cloud riffs.
“I Think She Knows” is slow yet bullish, with Sherlock’s soulful pipes once again shining, along with an exceptionally melodic guitar solo. The momentum continues to swing back and forth as another edgy riff hits, this time in the raw and groovy “Realise” that channels the soul of Jeff Buckley.
Power ballad “Empty Street” takes us mainstream, starting intimate and climbing to a soaring chorus that highlights the Mancunian’s fantastic vocal range. Written in his bathroom during lockdown at 5am, it’s a song Sherlock won’t be washing his hands of at live shows.
“Time” on the other hand, is far from your typical radio spiel, boasting a wonderful melody and a deftly guitar break halfway through. A thumping dark drum beat and sudden silences then surround the dramatic “Goodbye To You.”
Once we’ve bid farewell, we are met with the second single, “Dear Elizabeth.” Described by Sherlock as “effectively a letter to someone I knew,” he pens a glorious solo that’s worth the price of a postage stamp on its own. Rachel Kay’s brilliant bassline also deserves a mention on the short number “Something’s Got To Give.”
Closing in style with Sherlock passionately restless about being ‘just a name on a backstage wall,’ this is 12 tracks of American radio-ready rock graffiti, tinted with light bluesy touches, pop, southern rock, and doodles in-between.
Just a name today, but certainly one to watch.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Dear Elizabeth
– Backstage Wall
The Big Hit
– Dear Elizabeth