Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters Harmonize For The Good Cause on Self-Titled Debut (ALBUM REVIEW)


This self-titled debut brings us seven ladies who take their cue from the mythic worker who labored in the factories during World War II. Of course, the original Rosie the Riveter was a rallying figure on a propaganda poster urging American women to work for the good of the cause. She became legendary mostly through Norman Rockwell putting her on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, posed with a rivet gun, sandwich in hand, and Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf” under her foot as if to say, ‘so much for the bad guys.’

Flynn and her cohorts take that same sassy, aggressive attitude, laying down a kickass sound that seems to be a rallying cry for women to rise again during these uncertain political times. Yet, the politics are indirect at best. What is direct is their shots at the macho images of today’s commercial country acts, evidenced best in the closer, “Big Hat, No Cattle” with these lines from Flynn – “Been forever since I sat in a saddle. In fact, I never rode a horse in my life.” In between though, it’s a mix of stompers and ballads, with themes of heartbreak, messages of hope, and conflicts between dreams and reality, doubt and self-confidence. It’s clear that they’re having fun with it, never taking themselves too seriously.

These Riveters are certainly not newcomers, even though it’s a debut album. Lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist Flynn, until now, has been a solo artist. She was raised in Kentucky and now resides in Portland, OR. Her conviction and storytelling are her hallmarks, seen most recently on her last album, A Million Stars, where she sang about pioneering women. Slashing guitarist Nancy Luca grew up in Florida ad studied with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell. She sat in with Petty’s other band, Mudcrutch and toured in Bo Diddley’s band in the ‘90s. In Los Angeles, she’s a member of Whole Lotta Rosies. Carmen Paradise, of the Michigan folk duo the Marvins, is on bass with Jolie Clausen on drums. Kathyrn Claire plays fiddle, Ara Lee’s on background vocals and Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists, holds down the keyboards. Producer Chris Funk lends a hand on a couple of tunes too.

The ten originals are all credited to Flynn & The Riveters, with Flynn, the main writer, getting some help from Luca on two songs.  Rockabilly is the underpinning for the opening “This Love,” giving us Flynn’s expressive vocals and Luca’s raging guitar. The sound recedes for sweet harmonies on “The Sound of Bells” before exploding again on the gritty, angst-ridden “Cold Black Line.” “Too Close to the Sun” hearkens back to a ‘70s sound as Flynn sings about being resilient about heartbreak. She opens with, “I’ve been rode hard, put away wet/ My clothes stink and my hair’s a mess.”  “One Moment” is a country pop tune with touches of gospel that showcases Luca’s dazzling guitar and the group harmonies.

” Shrouded Sun” has Flynn again using nature imagery in a ballad about the conflict between dreams and reality. The strings come courtesy of guest Kyleen King who plays both violin and viola. “High on the Mountain” is another ballad, with some terrific piano from Conlee. “You Will Remember” is a rave-up, showcasing both Luca’s axe and Conlee’s B3.  “Fly Away” moves into anthemic southern rock as Flynn sings about hope and again flight.

The cover art has a World War II B-52 bomber dropping roses. Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters may be connoting peace through that image, but they blaze fiercely through this, dare we say, riveting mix of tunes.

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