Ashen Embers' self-titled debut has the meditative feel of a Rocky Mountain sunset. Chalk it up to the slow tempos, the haunting rounds of slide guitar or the bluesy lyrical plaints — whatever the source, the record offers a strong sense of high altitudes, late-night campfires and small-town calm. That's really no wonder: The quartet hails from Conifer, and those mountain roots clearly inform the easygoing pace of this release. The instrumentation has a lot to do with that feel; the outfit sticks mostly to acoustic voicings on this collection of measured and soulful tunes. The twelve-string is compelling on "Mountain Beauty," the album's opening track, but even with the electric-guitar experiments on tunes like "Lonely Dispute," the heart of the album is rooted in blues and folk. That's where the strongest moments are: the heartfelt harmonics and slide work that drive "Tell Your Brother," the eerie acoustic chords that make up "Devil Blues." These moments are distinctive, and feel entirely native to the band's home state.
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