Greg Ashley has been a fixture on the underground music scene since the late-90s while strafing eardrums as a teenager in Houston in garage-punk band The Strate-Coats. Since then he's proven himself not only as a songwriter, singer and guitar player in bands like The Mirrors and The Gris-Gris, but also as a producer/sound engineer via his Oakland-based Creamery Studio. His career as a solo artist is vast and varied, spanning the gamut between fried and beautiful psychedelia, gorgeous and cathartic symphonic suites and gentle, damaged folk music, beginning with 2003's Medicine Fuck Dream and last leaving us with 2014's Another Generation of Slaves.
His latest, Pictures of Saint Paul Street carries forward that album's musical palette (a rootsy amalgam of tortured, Cohen-esque folk tinged with the beer soaked recklessness of a West Texas honky-tonk). The songs are lush and beautiful autopsies of society's underbelly, with stark and brutally honest ruminations on humanity. Tracks like "A Sea of Suckers" and "Pursue The Nightlife" pull no punches, while "Jailbirds & Vagabonds" and "Blues For A Pecan Tree" carouse on a more abstract, human (almost romantic) level. By the time you've hit the album's centerpiece; "Bullshit Society," Ashley's songs move from ballads of hopeless misery to rallying anthems for the dispossessed.
Pictures of Saint Paul Street isn't always an easy listen, but that's the point; the journey to salvation isn't easy or pretty. The protagonist in many of Ashley's songs may be Ashley himself - a true artist willing to admit he's nowhere near perfect, and honest enough to document his sunrises & sunsets no matter if they occur in his own backyard, or on a barroom floor.