People Are Fragile
ASHLEY DANEMAN (FLOOD RECORDS)
Ashley Daneman Sings About Pain, Recovery, Rebirth On Bold New Album People Are Fragile
Kintsugi is the Japanese craft of repairing a broken object with gold, thus making it stronger. The hallmark of kintsugi is that the repairs are visible. The beauty of the reborn object derives from the patterns of its fractures, rather than from an effort to hide them. On People Are Fragile, singer-songwriter Ashley Daneman offers up her pain and healing in ways both visible and audible, inviting the listener to celebrate what humans can become even after they’ve broken.
“I’ve had a lot of grief and loss over the past few years,” Daneman said, “and I was very in touch with my fragility. My previous album, Beauty Indestructible, was about surviving and being strong. I realized that, to heal even further, I had to become vulnerable again.”
People Are Fragile, released on the artist-owned Flood Music label, features eight original compositions, two spirituals with pianist Rufus Ferguson, and one song from Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess. The entire album feels very exposed and intimate, like a deep, late-night conversation between old friends who don’t spare each other’s feelings.
“When a glass breaks in your kitchen it breaks everywhere,” Daneman said. “Some pieces are easy to pick up and put in the trash. The other pieces are fine and needle-like and around for years and years. This album is what my life is like, and I offer it up in solidarity with anyone else who feels the same.”
People Are Fragile was recorded primarily in Chicago by a stellar band made up of pianist Rob Clearfield (Fareed Haque, Grazyna Auguscik); bassist Andrew Vogt (Ernie Watts); drummers Quinlan Kirchner (Wild Belle) and Makaya McCraven (Bobby Broom, Marquis Hill); and guitarist and lap steel player Matt Gold (Sun Speak, Storm Jameson; Gold is also one of the owners of Flood Music). Also appearing are Ferguson and percussionist Bujo Kevin Jones (Whitney Houston, The Isley Brothers). Takes were recorded live, with all musicians in one room and no punched in corrections.
“I just wanted to make something honest, and I think that was a really good place to be,” Daneman said. “I was very influenced by two albums: Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, in terms of the role of the bass and pedal steel and the songwriting; and also Laura Mvula’s album Sing To The Moon, which is one of those albums that when you hear it, you feel it was made just for you and you want to absorb every piece of it. She has a lot of layering and vocal harmonies and that really spoke to me as well.”
Much of Daneman’s previous work has incorporated explicit or implicit references to her religious faith, and at first listen People Are Fragile seems to as well. Like much in her life, however, Daneman’s faith has undergone a transformation: “I’ve shifted much more faith into myself and into my own power, versus a religious map. I wouldn’t say that I’ve lost any of my spirituality, but I’ve shifted where my faith lies and what I’m emphasizing. There was a period of reckoning where I questioned my tidy view of how things are.”
People Are Fragile is anything but tidy. Like the Japanese craft that inspired its cover image, it’s an album of shining beauty made from the real fault lines of life. It’s a mature, honest and fearless record, and it signals the next big step in the musical career of Ashley Daneman.
releases March 1, 2019
TRACKS [comp. Daneman unless otherwise noted]: 1. I Alone Love The Unseen In You; 2. If I Knew Who I Was; 3. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child [trad.]; 4. When You Break; 5. Shake It All Down; 6. Daddy’s Gonna Die Soon; 7. Deep River [trad.]; 8. My Man’s Gone Now [Gershwin/Heyward]; 9. The Feeling Of Heavy; 10. Pictures In The Atmosphere; 11. Did Anyone Ever Sow You A Lie?; 12. Recall.
PERSONNEL: Ashley Daneman, voice: all tracks; Rob Clearfield, piano/wurlitzer/organ: all tracks except 3, 7; Rufus Ferguson, piano: 3, 7; Andrew Vogt, electric bass: all tracks except 3, 7; Quinlan Kirchner, drums: 1, 4, 5, 6, 10; Makaya McCraven, drums: 2, 8, 9, 12; Matt Gold, guitar/lap steel: 1, 4, 5, 6, 10; Kevin Bujo Jones, percussion: 8
ASHLEY DANEMAN (INDEPENDENT RELEASE)
DownBeat Magazine's "Editors' Pick," “Beauty Indestructible” shares heartfelt coming of age jazz-folk with inspirational lyrics. Ashley has morphed from her jazz-singing background in favor of home-grown grooves interlaced with emotional orchestrated sections reminiscent of musical theatre at times. With lyrics that reckon with fear and freedom, this album is loaded with songs of overcoming and arriving.
Soaring, catchy melodies are supported by rich jazz chords, accessible instrumental solos, horn fills, Rhodes organ, and layered, sometimes quirky, vocal harmonies. The instrumentation varies from a voice, bass, and drums trio to a seven-piece ensemble which includes guitar and cello. There is an overarching joy throughout captured in tender, but strong, passionate vocals.
released January 20, 2015
PERSONNEL: Ashley Daneman - all Vocals, all Music & Lyrics; David Izard - Acoustic Piano, Rhodes; Sam Weber - Acoustic Bass; Michael W. Davis - Drumset, Percussion; Benje Daneman - Trumpet; Matt Davis - Guitar; Amali Premawardhana - Cello
TRACK LISTING: 1. How You Got to Yes, 2. He Loves Me Well, 3. Sing (‘til You’re Good and Live Again), 4. This Is Somebody Else’s Piano, 5. Think On Whatever Is Lovely, 6. Beauty Indestructible, 7. Here Comes a Body, 8. Where No One’s Ever Lost, 9. The Forest’s Virgin Tree. (Total running time 38:34)
STUDIO/RECORDING INFORMATION: Recorded at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, NY in August 2013. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Max Ross. Produced by Ashley Daneman & the band.
(What I wouldn’t give for a) Silent Night
ASHLEY DANEMAN (INDEPENDENT RELEASE)
Public Domain. Arr. Ashley Daneman ©2012. Inspired by a friend who lost his young son in a car accident in December.
What I wouldn’t give for a silent night, a holy night, when all is calm, and all is bright.
‘Round the virgin, mother and child, a holy infant so tender and mild. But what’s it got to do with me?
All I wanna do is sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night. Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from his holy face bring the dawn of redeeming grace.
But what’s it got to do with me, that they’re sayin’ Jesus was Lord at his birth? Jesus was Lord at his birth?
What’s it got to do with me, ‘cause I lost all my family.
In this world of beauty, there’s so much pain.
I don’t even know if God knows my name.
I’ve got sickness in my body, I’ve got sickness in my soul.
And I even have the problem that I can’t give up control. Oh, oh, oh.
If you’re the son of God, if you’re love’s pure light...
Come on down here and show us the love tonight.
‘Cause I need some answers to my questions in this Silent Night.
released August 7, 2013
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gordon van Gent of GVG Productions, Dalton Center Recital Hall, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. April 2012. Cover photography by Bette Lynn Dickinson Photography.