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World Music CD Reviews North American

Ashley Maher

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published March 20, 2007

Flying Over Bridges
Spin Wild

Ashley Maher, who was born in Canada to British parents, lives in L.A. and performs original songs that she wraps in complex African and jazz rhythms. Maher isn’t very well known but she has a small cult following, and Flying Over Bridges, her fourth album but her first in many years, should help expand her fan base. Although her songwriting isn’t in the same league as Joni Mitchell’s, whom she has often been compared to that singer, and that’s fair enough if one can imagine what Mitchell might have sounded like had she been brought up in Africa instead of Saskatchewan. Maher might be considered just another singer/songwriter, albeit a good one, if the arrangements weren’t so sophisticated. Even the few songs that are lightweight are buoyed by tasteful and sparse instrumentation that’s always very rhythmic. Otmaro Ruiz offers adept jazz piano accompaniment while Andre Manga, who produced, contributes funky bass.