Exclusive ND First Spin: Ashleigh Flynn – ‘A Million Stars’

Portland-based singer-songwriter Ashleigh Flynn has been earning her way up the folk/roots/Americana totem pole for years, playing her heart out in cities around the country. Like many on the Portland scene, Flynn seems to pull from a bottomless source of inspiration – including bluegrass, country, and folk, but also indie rock and other styles – to fashion songs which are as heartfelt as they are both fun and heartbreaking.

For her latest disc, A Million Stars, she teamed up with Americana darling Todd Snider (with whom she’s toured quite a bit) as well as fellow Portlander Chris Funk – best known for his work with the Decemberists and Black Prairie, among others.

Like her collaborators, Flynn seems to have an appreciation for the genre-defiant approach to songwriting. Her songs are stories first. That they’re backed by occasionally dark, occasionally rollicking instrumentals depends on what the songs themselves call for. Sure, her Kentucky roots are always showing, but “Prohibition Rose” swings with a subtle Vaudeville style, while “The West Was Won” sounds like it could have come off a Juliana Hatfield disc.

You can listen for yourself to the stream below and see what you think. The disc drops on Flynn’s own Home Perm Records next Tuesday, May 14, 2013. We’d like to give away free copies to three lucky ND members. To enter, simply comment on this post and let us know what you like best about this album. We’ll pick three commenters at random and send them a copy of the disc. You have until 11:59 PST on Monday, May 13, to enter. Anyone is welcome to enter but the CD’s must be sent to a US address.

According to the press release:

Flynn’s fourth studio effort on her own Home Perm Records, is produced by Chris Funk, her longtime friend and musical collaborator, best-known as the Decemberists’ multi-instrumentalist. The record features Todd Snider and many of Portland’s most talented musicians including, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee-Drizos, Nate Query, John Moen, Annalisa Tornfelt, and the Stolen Sweets singers, among others.

A Million Stars continues the inspired narrative Flynn began on earlier records with tales deeply rooted in the American experience. The most profound seed of inspiration for the new record was a watercolor painted by her young niece depicting a cowgirl atop her horse under a starry desert sky. Who was this girl so confidently astride her mount? Calamity Jane? Surely there were others like her? Discovering the painting led her on a quest to learn more about the women of the westward expansion, unnamed heroes that history had largely overlooked.

Listen up and let us know what you think, and you’ll automatically be entered to win a copy of the disc. Enjoy!

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