“Could this all be true? / Did I really find you?” asks Dan Ashley in one of the more memorable junctures of his new single “Lucky Stars,” his vocal interwoven with the fabric of the background melody seamlessly. Ashley’s voice is in top form here, and though he hasn’t been known to bring anything but his A-game to the studio prior to now, he presents us with what might be some of his most cutting work to date in this latest release. Supported by a gorgeous instrumental foundation that warms us to his poetry like nothing else could have, this singer/songwriter makes a track that both puritan adult contemporary fans and casual observers can get into just the same.
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Compared to the couple of past songs bearing his moniker, “Lucky Stars” is a lot more liberal with Dan Ashley’s skillset, exposing aspects of his singing style that were somewhat obscured by the grandiosity of the music. He approaches the fever pitch of the track with a swagger that just wasn’t present in 2019’s “What Really Matters,” and though he comes dangerously close to overpowering the backing band, the even-keeled mixing makes sure that we’re able to appreciate all of the different elements in the song without feeling pulled in a thousand different directions. Ashley doesn’t want to rest on his laurels in this latest studio cut; if anything, I think he’s trying to push himself further than he has in the past year in hopes of being a more mature and accessible singer in every way that matters.
Instrumentally, I love the complexities that “Lucky Stars” contains, and through the meticulousness of the arrangement here, there’s scarcely a moment where it sounds as though too many pieces are being thrusted together in a single harmony. In the past few years, minimalism has inarguably been all the rage in this genre of music, but Dan Ashley is darting away from the trend altogether in this song. He doesn’t appear to have any place for stripping down parts of his sound that could otherwise be made into the essential ingredients of an earth-shaking anthem, and whether the mainstream press embraces his formula or not, I think his success on the underground side of the dial speaks for itself.
I’m becoming a fan of Dan Ashley’s, and this most recent release is by far the most impressive addition he’s made to his short discography in the last year. It sounds as if he’s coming into his own as a songwriter and finding new and exciting ways of getting a point across to us, even if it means getting out of his comfort zone, which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a lot of his major label rivals in the last half-decade. Ashley isn’t dropping a world-changing composition on us in “Lucky Stars,” but if there’s one thing that he is doing, it’s verifying both his authenticity as a performer as well as his potential as a singer/songwriter with vocal talents well above what most would consider the status quo.
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