Recorded over the course of a 4,000-mile cross-country road trip, Taylor Ashton’s gorgeous new album, Stranger To The Feeling, is a sonic odyssey through the heart of America, one that works its way chronologically and geographically from coast to coast as it meditates on the meaning of closeness and connection. The performances are warm and inviting, anchored by Ashton’s deft guitar and banjo work and rich, easygoing melodicism, and the recordings—helmed by producer Jacob Blumberg and captured with a broad range of collaborators including Courtney Hartman, Big Thief’s Buck Meek, Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price, Vulfpeck’s Theo Katzman, Late Show bandleader Louis Cato, and Mipso’s Jacob Sharp—are alternately sparse and lush, with arrangements often serving as aural reflections of their physical environments. From a blanket in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to a spiritual vortex in Sedona, AZ, the settings are inextricable from the songs, and the result is a moving collection that manages to evoke both the gentle virtuosity of Nick Drake and the buoyant wit of Paul Simon.
Born and raised in Canada, Ashton got his start fronting the beloved Vancouver five-piece Fish & Bird. After moving to NYC, he teamed up with Courtney Hartman for 2018’s Been On Your Side, which Rolling Stone proclaimed “packs a punch,” and two years later released his solo debut, The Romantic, earning widespread praise alongside dates with the likes of Sarah Jarosz, Madison Cunningham, The Wood Brothers, and more.