Ashley Sherlock, Just A Name Review
Ashley Sherlock’s Just A Name: A Harmonic Mélange from Manchester’s Newest Maestro
by Constance Tucker
From the gritty streets of Manchester, a city renowned for birthing iconic bands and vocalists, emerges Ashley Sherlock, who seems destined to be etched into the annals of the city’s rich musical lineage. Released under the banner of Ruf Records, Just A Name is Sherlock’s full-length debut, following the critical acclaim of EPs Ashley Sherlock (2019) and If You’re Listening (2021). A recent nominee for the UK Blues Federation’s Young Blues Artist of the Year, Sherlock combines the soulful chords of blues with daring detours into pop and hard rock.
To speak of Sherlock is to inevitably touch upon the tight-knit chemistry of his band. Let’s decode the rhythm section: Charlie Rachael Kay on bass and Danny Rigg on drums. This trinity’s creative partnership was conceived four years ago and solidified in the bone-chilling cold of Manchester’s Hallam Mill. “We’re one hundred percent a family. I love those guys to bits,” remarks Sherlock. Their tight rhythmic pocket, evident in every groove and break, is the foundation on which Sherlock’s vocals and guitar solos dance.
Just A Name kicks off with ‘Trouble,’ a track that crackles with the raw energy of ’70s rock. Sherlock’s vocals immediately grab your attention, performed with palpable passion. His singing showcases a dynamic range that encapsulates a bluesy timbre, seamlessly transitioning into falsetto to draw the listener into the live experience. What adds another layer of intrigue is Sherlock’s guitar work; his aptitude for textured, motivic ideas injects palpable tension, making every note a thrilling chapter in this blues-rock tale.
Sherlock’s soulful undertones are at their peak in ‘I Think That She Knows.’ Here, the timbre of his voice mellows to blend with cleaner guitar tones. The bass and drums sync in a manner that agilely elevates their dynamic contribution, crescendoing in an outpouring that culminates in the potent chorus. This demonstrates the trio’s familial chemistry and knack for intuitive pacing.
The song ‘Realise’ is a rhythmic romp that displays the ensemble’s collective agility. The song structure seems custom-tailored to Sherlock’s vocal and guitar nuances, from the captivating falsetto pre-chorus to the smooth glissandos. The falsetto and glissandos infuse an uplifting and passionate quality that breathes life and character into the melody, adding emotional depth to the song’s agile structure.
‘Empty Street’ and ‘Time’ are contrasting songs in emotional storytelling. ‘Empty Street’ unfolds as a medium-tempo rock ballad where Sherlock’s varied vocal timbres come to the forefront. The song’s robust, dynamic aura aligns perfectly with Sherlock’s vocal power, providing a sonic landscape that mirrors the aggressive undertones in his voice. On the other hand, ‘Time’ evokes an entirely different mood—offering an exhilarating blend of country blues and ’60s rock influences. The softer, more intimate atmosphere is carefully constructed through Sherlock’s choice of acoustic steel-string guitar, which gradually builds up to an overdriven semi-hollow body, adding layers of complexity to the sound. The shift in instrumentation creates a seamless sound story that pairs beautifully with Sherlock’s emotive vocals, laid bare in this track. The two songs exhibit Sherlock’s versatility and his ability to delve deep into varied emotional textures, skillfully capturing the essence of each mood.
While ‘Goodbye To You’ captures rhythmic elements reminiscent of The Stone Roses, Sherlock’s vocals diverge into bluesier territories. His aptitude for expressive slides, growls, and nuanced vibrato adds a layer of sophistication that is highly engaging. Notably, Sherlock’s vocals showcase a distinct level of control in pitch and sustain, adding a unique texture to Manchester’s rich tapestry of iconic voices. Each artist has their special allure, prompting one to wonder if something in the Manchester waters nourishes vocal talents.
Just A Name is a strong statement from a band that knows itself, trusts its craft, and defies easy categorization. With influences that range from hard rock to soul, and from blues to pop, Ashley Sherlock and his trio do more than just perform songs—they live them. In this living expression, Sherlock’s voice and guitar work stand out, yet they are part of a unified performance that takes the listener on an unforgettable journey through the essence of Just A Name.