Ashley Monroe and the Art of Country Vocals

April 20, 2015

Ashley Monroe quote - from Farce the Music, 4-22-14

There have been some remarkable vocal performers in the history of country music. The most famous have been on the male side, where some of the most distinctive voices can be heard: from the yodels of Hank Williams and Dwight Yoakam to the expressive baritone of George Jones and Randy Travis. Next to their male colleagues, we can also list the legendary Tammy Wynette, with her vulnerable tremor, or the wonderfully twangy and confident Reba McIntyre. It is the “distinctive” quality that makes country vocals such a special contribution to American music. A powerhouse vocal performance is not country, though I might make an exception for Carrie Underwood.

Ashley Monroe is an excellent case in point. She is one of my favorite singer-songwriters to emerge in the last ten years, and she has made some influential friends with Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. But she is more than a great songwriter. She is also an excellent vocalist, projecting both confidence and vulnerability. Her twang is effortless. She has only received modest success in regard to radio play, yet she is very well-known and beloved throughout Nashville and, indeed, the whole country. Her album, Like a Rose, has been a great success, hailed by both critics and average country fans alike. And there is even a beautiful music video for the title track.

Among her performances at the Opry, I warmly recommend these two:

“Has Anybody Ever Told You,” Ashley Monroe

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“Two Weeks Late,” Ashley Monroe

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Image: Ashley Monroe (source: Farce the Music, retrieved 22-April-2014)

4 Responses to “Ashley Monroe and the Art of Country Vocals”

  1. Joel said

    It’s probably a cliche choice, but Emmylou is my favorite female country musician.

  2. Joel said

    I also love female singers with really powerful and gutsy voices too. Lou Dalgleish of the British country duo My Darling Clementine is great.


    Or (to stretch a little beyond country) Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope. Or (not country at all) Aretha Franklin. Or Beth Hart, whose new album is really good.

    • Kevin Davis said

      Yes, I like Cary Ann Hearst’s voice a lot and of course Aretha. I keep coming across My Darling Clementine but have never really checked htem out. They seem very talented. I like the Spanish influence in the second song — that’s something I miss in country music. Ryan Bingham brings a little bit of it into some of his songs.

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