Alice Ashley has worked for many years in America’s southern gospel belt and she divides her time between making music, raising money for any number of charitable concerns and spreading a personal conviction that individual positivity can make a difference in the lives of others. She’s just returned from an extensive tour of Australia, where this album was especially well-received, and it’s easy to hear why. First of all, the music is simple, uncluttered and effective. It’s soul music as it was… a little unpolished and rough around some of the edges, but none the worse for that. More, it features real musicians (including the legendary Gil Askey) playing real instruments and the whole set has a real, organic feel to it. Lyrically the songs’ messages aren’t specifically gospel-based, but they are inspirational in their own way and it’s refreshing to hear a soul set that is free of bling, exhortations to party and/or cheating in the next room. Key tracks? Well, ‘We Can Overcome The Odds’ has a real mid-tempo sensual groove to it that brings immediate appeal. It sounds like it could have come out of the old Malaco studios and the minor chord changes are a delight. ‘Something Has Changed Me’ is another sweet groove that builds, while ‘I Know The Difference’ features some real rustic brass riffing that’s a kind of hybrid of ‘Funky Nassau’ and the Astor’s ‘Candy’ It’s an oddity, but it has appeal. Best cut of the lot though is ‘Forever And Always’. This one’s a light ballad with real strings, a cooing chorus and a great saxophone break courtesy of Greg Clarkson. Like I said up top this is soul music as it was, and if you still hanker for the way we were then you’d do worse than investigate more at www.aliceashley.com … the album’s also currently available on CD Baby.