Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.21.08

Flynn’s American Dream
Ashleigh Flynn celebrates her new release

When I caught up with Ashleigh Flynn recently, her normally supple voice with the Kentucky twang was gravelly from a lingering cold. Despite being under the weather, Flynn was excited to talk about her brand new CD, American Dream. “It’s like a bunch of chapters that tell stories about different facets of America, I guess through my eyes,” she says. Those stories reveal that Flynn is an optimist at heart, and she’s become troubled by what the “American Dream” has come to symbolize, politically and socially. “A lot of the stories on the record are about people who have suffered as a result of the American dream, yet they are still able to see the good side,” she says. “And then deeper within that there’s a part of me that believes that the American dream as I see it where peoples’ needs are met … is still possible.”

In 2006 Flynn released a live album, Live From Mississippi Studios, out of dismay with how easy it is to create inauthentic music in the digital form. “I love having live musicians come in and actually play through their heart and soul,” she says. American Dream, though a studio album, didn’t use many “tricks”: “It’s all instruments that have been played by humans who are attached to the story.”

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s most enjoyable about American Dream. Part of it is definitely the slide guitar that slithers through everything, giving each song an easy sort of groove. Flynn’s voice is equally appealing whether she’s belting out the rocking, untamed “Evangeline,” gentle “Dressed and Ready” or melancholy title track. And the instrumentation is simple and unfussy; each song gets the attention it needs and nothing more, yet a really full, warm sound comes through on everything. The key element uniting all of this is Flynn’s poetic lyricism and her unvarnished voice.

Flynn’s CD release show features some faces that Eugeneans will remember from early Ashleigh Flynn days. She will be joined on slide guitar by Chris Funk, who plays in a little Portland band called The Decemberists. Fellow Decemberist (and former Calobo member) Jenny Conlee will be playing Wurlitzer and accordion. Dandy Warhols producer Greg Williams will back Flynn up on drums, and Boxset’s Jim Brunberg appears on bass.

Ashleigh Flynn, Peter Wilde. 9 pm Saturday, Feb. 23. Sam Bond’s Garage • $5. 21+ show