Behind Ashley Parker Angel's personal charm and good looks beats the heart of a true musician. Solo efforts by former boy band members fail more often than succeed, but Ashley Parker Angel defeats the odds here. Soundtrack to Your Life is a solid album sprinkled with several true gems.
Emotions in Motion
Who would have thought? Ex-boy band members recording concept albums. First we heard Nick Lachey's 12 ways to say "I'm down" on the album What's Left of Me. Now Ashley Parker Angel treats us to a collection of songs exploring the emotional life of teens and early 20-somethings. Unfortunately, Lachey's album overwhelmed with repetition and bland songwriting. By contrast, Ashley Parker Angel ranges across musical styles and unveils some outstanding songs that stand on their own as durable musical constructions.
An Album With Heart
Soundtrack to Your Life kicks off with the jet-fueled single "Let U Go" and skips through a clutch of songs produced by Swedish pop guru Max Martin and his sidekick Dr. Luke, as well as hitmaking conglomerate the Matrix. The songs are fun but a bit high on fluff content.
The true heart of the album lies in a pair of songs exploring the down side of life from a female and a male perspective. "Who Cares?" is self-consciously, beautifully Beatles-esque in its echoes of "Eleanor Rigby's" examination of loneliness. "Shades of Blue" borrows a Pink Floyd style cosmic spaciness to detail a far-too-universal story of teen suicide. Both are handled with grace and are moving listening experiences.
Introducing Ashley Parker Angel
It would be easy to dismiss Ashley Parker Angel without truly listening to his music. His first claim to fame was as part of the manufactured-for-TV boy band O-Town, and then his career was resuscitated through another reality television show There & Back. With that background, his album Soundtrack to Your Life is an even more pleasant surprise. It is a fine introduction to a promising talent. Whether it's the Todd Rundgren style piano ballad "Where Did You Go?" or images of a stark unforgiving world in "Apology," Ashley Parker Angel deftly explores the corners of the stage in life in which "Everything is changing, life is rearranging / But I feel so alive."