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Boston-based musician Corin Ashley has just released his fine new record Broken Biscuits, which is something of a miracle, considering all that he has endured in the past 16 months. While recording songs for this album, he suffered a stroke of the right parietal lobe that left him hospitalized for a long stay, unable to move the fingers on his left hand and with a paralyzed vocal cord.
After 9 months of intensive physical, speech, and vocal therapy, he eventually re-learned how to play guitar and sing, finally taking the stage again at the end of last year. This new album is a testament to his strength, courage, and unflagging determination to heal and soldier on. And what a great new album this is. I know Corin peripherally through my association with Big Takeover Magazine, but have always enjoyed his writing for Big Takeover as well as his solo records. Corin recorded in Memphis with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens at Ardent Studios, and the album was wrapped up with engineer Gavin Lurssen.
“Little Crumbles” charges straight at you with a send-up of Paul McCartney in Corin’s confident vocals. The song is fast moving with trippy little twists and turns and magical moments darting at you. I love the slightly warped sections, and also what sounds like horns. Beatles/Wings fans will really dig this! “Broken Biscuit 3” is like a merry go round calliope with majestic melodic flourishes that is done in a flash, leading to the enchanting duet with Belly’s Tanya Donelly, “Wind Up Boy”. A symphonic backdrop only adds to the magic. “Edison’s Medicine” takes me straight back to Muswell Hillbilly era Kinks, with its cool, barroom piano and effervescent cheerfulness. Simply wonderful! There are several “Broken Biscuits” interludes, but “Broken Biscuits 9” is possibly the most heart-rending, as it describes Corin’s stroke in detail.
“Magpie Over Citadel” is another bittersweet tune, one that reminds us of our own mortality. “In Appropriate Fashion” starts off like a long lost Zombies tune, possibly because of the neat keyboards that decorate this composition. And as always, Corin writes clever lyrics that engage the listener. “King Hollow” has a lovely chorus that is slightly at odds with the somewhat melancholy air of the verses. “Jellyfish” starts off like the crackling of a vinyl record, and becomes an impassioned series of melodic switchbacks. It shifts from a heavier vibe to an acoustic one and once again reminds me slightly of Sir Paul. “Powder Your Face With Sunshine” is one part Abbey Road and could easily be part of the soundtrack of a classic, 40s movie. A beautiful little song, and a perfect way to end this inspiring album.
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