Ashleigh Southam: Ashleigh Southam
By Ania Glowacz
A luxury of these times is the ease of borrowing from every era of music and applying as desired. Ashleigh Southam has been very busy in this regard, primarily raiding the '70s cupboard to prove that prog rock is alive, though to be fair there's a lot more going on here. Initially a little gratuitous, there's musical depth and feeling, and more than a little experimentation. Echoes you'll hear include David Bowie, Queen, Muse, Split Enz, Elton John… even an Artic Monkeys feel on Phantom. There's a lot to take in - orchestral arrangements, some great lyrics ("I promised you I would tame this, but I am sick" on Bodies), a huge bombast of music. The two acoustic numbers provide relief and showcase a strong songwriter. Considerable work has gone into this album and a lot of help. Recorded in Christchurch and Sydney and mastered in Melbourne, this is a slick effort. Overwhelming at first, it reveals some very ambitious ideas proving eclectic and unpigeonhole-able. It will be too much for some, and the composer may be getting ahead of himself, but this is a really interesting ride.