David on Earth
Indie-Music Review, by Dan MacIntosh
David J. Ashley makes Christian music, but he hardly concentrates on heavenly things, such as mansions in glory and golden streets. David On Earth is both an album title and a description of the music contained within. With a foreboding, minor key melody, Ashley advises, "It's time to bow your head down, it's time to get your faith on," during "It's Time." So whereas most worship involves looking up, this approach to meeting one's maker is akin to a guilty child admitting, with head down, some variety of wrongdoing to his parent.
A cover of "Life's Railway To Heaven," which arrives six songs in, couldn't come a moment too soon. With just acoustic guitar accompaniment, Ashley sings this old folk/gospel chestnut with unusual hopefulness in his voice. The CD also closes on a relative upbeat note with one titled "Second Chances." It expresses the beautiful central message of the Gospel; that no matter how much we've messed up our lives, God offers a second chance. Ashley has based his very existence on this new hope, and you can hear it in his voice. "It's the second chance I live for every day now, I'll take it, make it mine."
When Ashley rocks out, he sometimes does so with a slightly industrial edge. He's called Nine Inch Nails an influence, and that inspiration comes through loud and clear during "Want You." This song is sung from God's perspective, as He promises: "I'll make you new, white robe clean, don't you think I want you.” And once again, with the line, "make you new," the whole concept of second chances is reiterated.
Few can appreciate second chances more than recovering addicts. On his website, Ashley speaks openly about his personal battles with substances and addresses those battles with a song called "Again." It's a gutsy and honest lyric, which states, in part:
See my past
Once again the raging storm
How I last through this addiction
Scars the face of my reward ...
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Even Ashley's love songs reflect his faith. On the song "It Should," he begins with the phrase, "I'm on my second wind." (Yep, it's another mention of second chances). But even though the ship has been righted, so to speak, that doesn't mean all is suddenly completely well. It's with a desperate wish that Ashley sings, "Take me back one more time to the place where we were fine."
David On Earth contains a lot of darkness, in hopes that this shadow world drives listeners to the light. And those turned off by Christian music's rampant optimism might just find Ashley's guarded hope refreshing.
Producer: Dusty Hughes.