Album Review: Bitter Sweet by Juliette Ashby

Juliette & Paul during soundcheck
Juliette & Paul during soundcheck

A few years ago I came across the artist Juliette Ashby and what I witnessed was an uber talented woman, grafting hard to get her music listened to by the right ears.

Those in the know, know that with a click of her finger (literally) Juliette could have been living the mega-high life and riding the coat-tails of her best-friend and family connections, but instead this head-strong woman decided that if people were going to love her and her music, it would be done the only way she knew how, the honest way, and here today we have the final 2 products of that sheer hard work in the albums ‘Over & Over’ and ‘Bitter Sweet’.

It’s been said that some of the greatest albums are born out of a place of pain, suffering and darkness, the eventual putting of lyrics to music bringing each artist into the light. Adele, Sam Smith, George Michael and Amy Winehouse are just a few such artists that have made historical albums in this way and Juliette Ashby looks set to follow suit.

‘Bitter Sweet’ is an acoustic album with songs that touch on the Pop, RnB and Folk genres, purposely written for those dealing with the pain of loss.

The album opens up with ‘Hushabye Mountain’. Anyone who has seen the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will not only remember the moment Dick Van Dyke sings this lullaby but the moment he utters the iconic words to Peter “…you shouldn’t be afraid, even in a terrible place like this, because there’s always hope…” and that there is the key message of the whole ‘Bitter Sweet’ album and why the second song is called ‘Hoping’.

Taking about the effects on friends and family when someone is battling an addiction, hoping that they will listen to the advice people have to give and further hoping that eventually that person will one day come to the realization they have a problem and seek help.

In ‘Falling Out Of Love’ the message focuses on a close friendship, watching the other person deteriorate and feeling at the end of your tether in trying to be strong and help.

I love how she strategically wove a Paul Simon and Lionel Richie song into the track listings, the lost and lonely friend in ‘Sounds of Silence’ and the best friend coming to find them in ‘Hello’.

Juliette Ashby has the greatest penchant for digging deep into the depths of her soul, unlocking buried emotions and setting them free like a caged bird. That skill being evident in the songs of Bitter Sweet, especially in ‘Fire Burn’, ‘Waiting’ and ‘So Thankful’ the latter being the song that gave definition to the albums title.

Written by Juliette and her guitarist Paul Stylianou, the listener hears how Juliette thanks a person for choosing the unfortunate path they had, as it in turn shows her the way she didn’t want her own life to turn out, a bitter-sweet pill to swallow but resulting in you becoming empowered by the event.

If you’re not feeling in the mood for a cry then i’d pass on this album, it certainly took me to places of anguish but at the same time the therapeutic voice of Juliette Ashby kissed my cares away and gave me above all Hope that if this woman can make it through to the other side, then I can too.

Bitter Sweet is available to download now from iTunes

If you managed to get a ticket to Juliette Ashby’s album launch at The Servant Jazz Quarters tonight (Thursday 2nd July) i’ll see you there, if not then come and join the After Party at The Cuckoo Club.

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