Christina Ashley is a seventeen year old singer whose debut album Let It All Go is set for a February 1st release. Back in the pre-compact disc era, this sprawling seventeen-track, seventy-three minute long collection would have been a double album. That was the first mistake in how this young artist's release is being handled. Unfortunately it isn't the only one. Thankfully, a quartet of original tunes are the saving grace of the overly long set.
First things first: Ashley's vocals are generally on key and not at all unpleasant. Seeing as she co-wrote only four of the seventeen songs (and contributed some brief French horn passages), the entire enterprise is banking on the quality of her voice. Suffice it to say, her voice needs time to mature. There is nothing distinctive about her style (or lack thereof). But doing her no favors is the production by Amber & Rob Whitlock. Everything here sounds as if it were meant for a 1980s-era adult contemporary radio station. The host of session players are tasteful and professional to a fault.
I don't know if Ashley handpicked the cover songs or if they were assigned to her by the producers. Either way, she has little idea of what to do with songs such as Paul Simon's "Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes" or Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty." She sings the songs, hitting the notes but missing the emotions. At least a touch of electric guitar in the latter brings something approaching energy to the overriding blandness. Who thought saddling a teenage pop singer with Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" was a good idea? I'm not suggesting the Whitlocks should've chased trends. But surely there had to be something a little hipper to record.