Tracks 2, 3, 5, 8: Recorded in a cozy midtown living room, 'Until They Lay Me Down to Rest' is Grace's first full-length album release. Richard Ford (a veteran bluegrass/country musician and engineer in Memphis) recorded and engineered the tracks and is featured on several instruments, including: banjo, lap steel, and jangletron. Mastering done by Kevin Cubbins. (*track 2 features another local veteran musician, Jana Misener, on cello).
Tracks 1, 4, 6, 7: Recorded and engineered by Andrew Ratcliffe at Tweed Studios (Oxford, MS) with Grace's recently re-formed backing band (Grace Askew & The Black Market Goods) jumping into the second half of the project, the chemistry and collaborative efforts truly shine. Featuring:
Logan Hanna - lead guitar
Andrew Simons - upright bass
Jesse Williams - drums/percussion
Grace Askew - all rhythm guitar/vocals
Mastered done by Jeffrey Reed.
All songs produced, written, and composed by Grace Askew
"The soul of Grace Askew"
By Elizabeth Cawein livefrommemphis.com 'Prodigal Girl' blog
April 18, 2010
There are a lot of things I like about Grace Askew: I like the timbre of her voice. I like her face when she sings. I like the way she writes. But probably most of all, I like that she's an old soul. She's about my age, but for some reason when I look at her I see youth—maybe it's her milky clear skin, that tramp. So when I heard her sing "The Thrill is Gone" at the Dixon's Art After Dark on Thursday, I couldn't help but wonder if she was on in years enough to even know the thrill to begin with. But if I close my eyes? All I hear is the blues.
The crowd at the Dixon was small and tame, and it was pleasant—the night was clear and still and her voice carried over the gardens and got soaked up by the trees. She sang several songs from her latest album, Until They Lay Me Down to Rest, including a tune called "Beautiful Mess," which she says was inspired by the P&H. (Or as she said that night, "The Poor and Hungry Cafe," which made me smile, not able to recall when the last time was I heard someone call it by its Christian name.) The writing on "Beautiful Mess" is particularly captivating; the imagery is striking and the rhythmic design is lilting yet authoritative, playful yet insistent.
The boyfriend bought the album during one of her set breaks, and we listened to it in the car as we left. After about three or four tracks I'd say I was convinced that I needed to own this album, so the next time I'm able to catch her I'll be picking up a copy of my own. I would just burn his, but as I said to him, I really like this music. I want to give her my money. If you like female singer/songwriters with a bit more edge, and of course especially if you like the blues, you should give Grace Askew a twirl. You can find her on Facebook and MySpace. You can catch her next weekend at the On Location Film Fest and Central BBQ.
LimeWire Store and Memphis Flyer present
Ear to the Ground: Memphis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, NY - April 13, 2010 - LimeWire Store has released Ear to the Ground: Memphis. Curated by Memphis Flyer, this free 14-track sampler shines the spotlight on some of the most promising indie acts in Memphis' local scene, including John Paul Keith And The One Four Fives, The City Champs, Two-Way Radio, Amy LaVere, and Hill Country Revue. The sampler is available for free download exclusively at LimeWire Store.
"We're always looking for ways to promote Memphis and its music scene," said Memphis Flyer's Music Editor Chris Herrington, who curated the compilation. "And the Ear to the Ground series, with its great track record in other cities, seemed like a terrific opportunity to do just that."
"Memphis is so storied and steeped in music history — Stax Records, Sun Records, Beale Street, Graceland — that it can be easy to forget that it’s still birthing artists and has a strong music scene today," said Tom Monday, Director of Partner Relations at LimeWire Store. "Some of the current Memphis artists we discovered seem to draw directly from the city’s musical legacy — folks like the incredible Grace Askew. But then others like Teflon Don make you realize just how thoroughly modern some of the sounds are. We hope the Ear to the Ground platform helps all the artists gathered here reach more people; they deserve to be heard."
Until They Lay Me Down to Rest
By “Doc” Suggs
What a delight it is to be immersed in the Memphis music scene in 2010! The mid 50s and the whole Stax / Hi era must have felt like this. And now, Memphis is the neo soul / folk-rock Mecca of the 21st century.
The leading lady of this milieu is Grace Askew. Grace is one of those rare musicians twice blessed: not only is she a skilled guitarist, a fine singer, an exceptional tunesmith, and a marvel as a vocalist, but she is also runway model gorgeous. Her EPs have been sweet little morsels of her talent, leaving us hungry for more. Her live performances are nearly legendary. And now she has a full length CD.
As yet unsigned, Grace seems to me unwilling to put up with the BS of the industrial machine. While that may change, the only thing missing from this current CD that might have come with a national label is a certain polish and slickness and a marketing campaign. But Until They Lay Me Down to Rest is pretty damn close to that polish.
I rank my favorite albums by the number of songs that are great in the canon. Christopher Cross, Garfunkel’s Angel Clare, Alan Parsons’ Turn of a Friendly Card, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Paul Simon’s Graceland, Willie Nelson’s Across the Borderline, Carole King’s Tapestry, The Eagles’ Desperado, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles’ Abbey Road, and Nanci Griffith’s Other Voices, Other Rooms are all CDs where every track is amazing - to me. Now that you know my taste in music, you probably understand why I like Grace so much.
Solid and diverse, the songs reveal Grace’s passion and humor as well as her unique skill as a spinner of tales.My favorites are the companion pieces “At the Brass Rail” and “Beautiful Mess,” depicting the lowlifes in a Texas hotel and a Memphis bar. Grace’s brilliant poetry coupled with Latin guitar stylings is as good as neo soul gets. While the band shines on the instrumental bridge of “Mess“, Grace’s guitar work on “Brass Rail” is so transcendent that it is a disappointment that it ends so quickly.
“Tossin ’n’ Turnin” plumbs the depths of Grace’s voice while contrasting with the whispered sweetness of her phrasing. “When I Get Buried” shows off her walking guitar technique while portraying the odd irony of her “burial” with her singing method. “Song for Tom” is about missing out on a meeting with Tom Waits, one of Grace’s idols. “Toasting for Two” describes the end of a love affair at which time the woman substitutes alcohol for her worthless lover, one who also drank heavily; alcohol numbs her in contrast to the depth of her feeling.The one lesser effort on the CD is “This New One.” It is not a bad song, but Grace is better that “good / should” rhymes; one wonders if the weaknesses of the lyric reflect the weakness of the new relationship she describes. If the far superior “But Gone” (which also contains the “good / should” rhyme) depicts the dissolution of the “This New One” liaison, then it is a tryst best ended.
“Until They Lay Me Down to Rest” ties the whole album up nicely, explaining how Grace takes all these life experiences and shapes them into song. The ending works like “Goodbye” in Elton John’s Madman Across the Water, “Goodnight” at the end of the Beatles’ White Album, or “Blues Part II” ending Blood, Sweat & Tears. With the exception of that one little misstep, Until They Lay Me Down to Rest is a more than satisfying effort.
Worth noting is that Richard Ford, Jana Misener, Logan Hanna, Andrew Simons, and Jesse Williams do what the best of sidemen do - let Grace be Grace with solid support that never obscures her remarkable talent. Ford and Andrew Ratcliffe are to be applauded for their mixing skills.
At 23, Grace has an amazing career before her. I remember a couple of years ago hearing Grace singing about a long relationship ending badly; she sang in a deep almost gruff voice. Yet, after the ovation, she said in a little girl’s voice, “Thank you. I’ve just turned 21. What do I know about love?”
Grace is wise indeed to write songs from the perspectives of what she knows and what she doesn’t. And those of us along for the ride are glad we met her on that gravel road.
Dr. Thomas Keith “Doc” Suggs is a lover of music as well as a professional screenwriter. His film A Fine Step will be released by Universal’s Ovation division to theaters this fall. The Black Box is entering production as is his reality series, The Barmaids of Bourbon Street. He is also the author of Luncheon at Adelphi, a book about the friendship and correspondence of Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw.