Ashley Heath, from Serving Coffee to Serving Something To Believe In
October 21, 2022
Some seven years ago, Ashley Heath gave up her job as a North Carolina barista, leaping into a full-time musician’s career. Now, with the release of her debut EP for Organic Records, she’s taking a big step forward onto a national stage — a step that, as Something To Believe’s six songs show, she’s more than ready to make.
From the first ominous notes of the title and opening track to the last lush chord of the aching closer, “How Long,” Something To Believe offers a clear portrait of a young artist who knows exactly what she’s doing.
For Heath, the road to this moment has been something of a throwback to the days before social media virality — slogging it out through a succession of appearances around her native Western North Carolina that ranged from the “character-building” grind of coffeehouse and bar gigs to higher profile sets at MerleFest and other renowned gatherings in the music-friendly region. Along the way, she’s been named “best Americana artist of the year” by the readers of local alternative weekly Mountain Xpress, and among the best of the year by Americana flagship station WNCW, too.
Still, Something To Believe is a momentous punctuation point. Entirely self-written, arranged and produced, the project is a bold musical statement that offers a succinct yet compelling portrait, and though it’s an EP, it nevertheless traces an easily discernible musical arc. Opening with the rocking title track, which offers the first glimpse of Heath’s blend of strength and vulnerability — both lyrically and vocally — it turns quickly to the pleading of “I Remember,” with its blend of country and r&b touches, followed by the more restrained fatalism of “The Letter,” with its poignant acknowledgement that:
You’ve set your mind and I couldn’t change a thing Even if I wrote it all down in a letter
The mood of resignation continues with the still gentler acoustic guitar and country feel of “I’m Used To It,” before the more spirited defiance of “You Think I’m A Fool,” which recaps the moody flavor of the opener, while stretching out to give more room to Heath’s hand-picked accompanists. Closing out the project is a nifty change of pace — a “quiet storm” flavored, vibe-y “How Long,” that flows so smoothly that a listener might not even notice that the lyric is composed entirely of questions:
What will happen to my dreams… Will they get lost in yours… When I put my time into you, will you walk out the door?”
“I chose these specific songs for my third EP because they were the songs I had written pre-pandemic and had planned on recording in 2019,” says Heath. “I wanted those collections of songs to stay together and the songs written during the pandemic to be a different collection. They were more representative of what I was like as a person and a reflection of what I was going through emotionally during that particular time of my life.”
“I hope that listeners can hear the diversity of genres throughout the songwriting as well as the intimacy and strength of my voice,” Heath continues. “I think the collective message of this album is we must stay strong and continue!”