A Million Stars, Ashleigh 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, 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.
The album’s twelve tracks represent true blue Americana featuring a bit of folk, blues, country and rock. The title cut, “A Million Stars”, chronicles the story of Cattle Annie and Little Britches, two cowgirls who rode the outlaw trails in the late 1800s, disguised as men, so as to gain entrée onto the frontier, a place not seen fit for a woman. “See That Light”, a seemingly fun little blues ditty but with a strong message, features Todd Snider, Flynn’s musical mentor, who plays the voice of reason and, in his sermon to those who might judge certain types of love unlike their own, warns of the resulting harm caused by such hypocrisy. Other highlights include a bluegrass tune “Dirty Hands and Dirty Feet”, a vintage jazz tune about Portland’s own “Prohibition Rose”, and “A Little Low”, a memorial to one of her friends, Nancy Bergeson – Assistant US Federal Defender who was murdered, and whose murder is still unsolved. “Walk Awhile”, recorded live at Search Party West, features party goers on parts of the chorus adding a fun and unique element.
Ashleigh Flynn grew up in Kentucky and cut her teeth on local bluegrass music. She arrived on the national scene in 2008 with the release of her third record, American Dream, and continues playing national and international stages with the release of A Million Stars (2013). A prolific songwriter, Flynn is also an electrifying performer blessed with unbridled charisma. Other full-length studio records include Chokecherry (2002) and Ashleigh Flynn, self-titled (1999) and a live record, Sneakin’ Out with Ashleigh Flynn (2005).
Based on the merits of American Dream, Flynn has performed at many a music festival including Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot, Falcon Ridge Folk, High Sierra, Gamble Rogers, Sisters Folk, and most recently the 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida. She has also traveled the globe, peddling her wares, and regularly warming tours for Todd Snider and Nanci Griffith, as well as opening shows for John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin, and Band of Heathens, among others. American Dreamlanded Flynn spots on many national & internationally syndicated radio programs that celebrate Americana music, including Mountain Stage, WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, and NPR.
Interview on KINK’s Bing Lounge, July 2013