Single Review: Ashley Monroe, "Like a Rose"

Ashley Monroe has a new album coming out December 18, and she’s offering the title track as a free download on her Facebook page.  You just might find it to be the best non-purchase you’ve made in quite some time.

How to describe “Like a Rose”?  Thoughtfully written, clear-eyed, quietly sincere, and country through and through – not that we would expect anything less from a song co-written by Jon Randall and Guy Clark.  An absorbing, inspiring story of moving forward from a troubled past to a bright future – told in one simple snapshot of a narrator sitting at a cafe, waiting

to take a bus down south.

Like Kacey Musgraves on her surprisingly well-received hit “Merry Go ‘Round,” Monroe shows that she’s not afraid to delve into the not-always-rosy details of life as she builds her characters back story.  She’s had to cope with the death of one parent and the alcohol addiction of the other, as well as some romantic disappointment.  But the overall tone is not despondent, but hopeful as the narrator prepares to move on to a new life, fully understanding that it is not her past heartaches that define her.

The arrangement supports the lyric beautifully, with sweet strains of dobro and steel guitar showing just how effective pure country instrumentation can be at enhancing the narrative of a well-constructed lyric.  But it’s ultimately Monroe’s unaffected, sincere vocal reading that makes “Like a Rose” such a compelling record.  The Pistol Annies connection has given Monroe’s profile a well-deserved boost, but “Like a Rose” gives one reason to be thankful that her solo career is not being abandoned.  Now let’s hear that new album.

Written by Ashley Monroe, Jon Randall, and Guy Clark

Grade:  A

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16 Comments

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16 Responses to Single Review: Ashley Monroe, "Like a Rose"

  1. bobNo Gravatar

    Your review covers all the reasons to love this song – the hopeful tone of the story, the arrangement supporting the lyric and her vocals.

  2. TomNo Gravatar

    …terrific song. being from overseas i’m sligthly intrigued by the line: .. i left it in the yard all covered with snow. is “leaving something in the yard” a widely used idiomatic phrase in the usa for ending something, or did she really bury something there – a baby? thoughts, anybody?

    here’s me playing amazon.com: if you like this, you might enjoy james house’s “anything for love” from his “days gone by” album of 95 (which i think is a mighty fine collection of country with a melody). almost not quite the same melody just more mid-tempo.

  3. JohnNo Gravatar

    I hate to be a downer, as this is a beautiful song and the review is spot-on. However, I like Ashley better in her down-trodden, unbelievably sad songs. She has a way of speaking to a troubled soul like no other. Truly looking forward to the album! She is stellar.

  4. Great review of an excellent song. You nailed it, Ben. I am really looking forward to a new album from her since I nearly wore out my copy of Satisfied.

    @Tom: I’ve lived in the U.S. for 29 years now – 27 of them in Ohio – and have never heard the phrase “leaving something in the yard” used before. The closest example I can even think of is in “MacArthur Park” and like everybody else, I didn’t understand the metaphor in that song either.

  5. Ben FosterNo Gravatar

    I don’t know for sure what that phrase meant either, and I wonder if that portion was purposely left open to individual listener interpretation.

    Thanks, J.R.!

  6. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Ben Foster re. “MacArthur Park”:

    I don’t know for sure what that phrase meant either, and I wonder if that portion was purposely left open to individual listener interpretation.

    Jimmy Webb, who wrote it, said that he had used the “cake left out in the rain” metaphor for a love affair that ended sadly. Given the circumstances under which he had written it (he had just broken up with a woman who worked as a bank teller near MacArthur Park in L.A., and who just happened to be a cousin of Linda Ronstadt), it seemed to make sense, if on a very extreme emotional level, however much people may dislike both that metaphor and the song as a whole.

  7. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    Is there a karaoke/instrumental version of this song that we can mail to Carrie Underwood’s house?

  8. VickiNo Gravatar

    I have always loved Ashley’s voice. This is a light but heartfelt song. Yeah, the part about left it in the yard…I wondered ring but when you mentioned Baby @Tom, that did put a Ashley spin to a more hopeful song.

  9. JasonNo Gravatar

    In “Dead Flowers,” Miranda sings about leaving the dead flowers in the yard. My bet is it’s just a phrase meaning to leave things to die/rot/waste. It’s like leaving an old junky car in the driveway.

  10. ThomasNo Gravatar

    Fantastic review Ben. I love Ashley and after having read the review, I ran to her website to download the song. It’s been on repeat ever since. I love how country it sounds. Beautiful sung, intriguing lyrics, simple arrangement. Fantastic song. Even with it being December, this, along with LeAnn Rimes’ ‘What Have I Done,’ would be on my Best of 2012 list.

  11. Jason – That would make sense to me.

    Glad you’re enjoying it, Thomas!

  12. KarlyNo Gravatar

    Ashley has a fantastic voice, and this song is flawless. Too bad she probably won’t breakthrough with it, though. My favorite track from the Pistol Annie’s debut was “Beige.” I’m crossing my fingers she sings more on the next album. And I also adore “Satisfied” with Ronnie Dunn, too.

  13. GatorNo Gravatar

    This song has grown on me immensely, I always thought it was excellent and all, it just never quite struck me completely until recently. I think it is a beautiful song that soothes and induces critical thinking simultaneously, much like Musgraves’ song. I was wondering if anyone had an opinion on the fact that she is including a re-recording of the song “Used” from Satisfied on the album, Like A Rose

  14. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    As country music fans and country blog posters we must not bloviate. We must back up our objections to modern country music and promote to those around us music like Ashley Monroe’s “Like a Rose”.

  15. RyanNo Gravatar

    @Tom The line, “I left it in the yard, all covered up with snow,” is likely a reference to the movie Citizen Kane (Spoilers below). In the movie, his last word before dying is “rosebud,” the rest of the movie follows a reporter attempting to determine what “rosebud” meant. In the end it is revealed that “rosebud” was the sled that he left out in the yard, in the snow, as he was taken from his home/childhood to be raised by a stranger.

    I haven’t seen this confirmed anywhere, but with “left it in the yard, all covered up with snow” and the title/subject of the song, it seems the most likely explanation.

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