Home > CCM, Christian Music, Christian Pop, Christian Rock, Greatest Albums, Jesus Music > 179. Big Town – Ashley Cleveland

179. Big Town – Ashley Cleveland

BIG TOWN (1991)

Ashley Cleveland

I remember hearing about this blond with a monster voice that had appeared on “everybody’s” albums, and regularly with one of my musical heroes, John Hiatt had signed a mainstream record deal with Atlantic. But nothing prepared me for the pushing play on my CD players and the a capella vocal strains of “Soon and Very Soon” busted through the clutter of modern music with sledge hammer. Damn, what a voice!

Then i was even more pleasantly surprised to discover an album rich in textures, loaded with incredible talent and filled with brilliantly conceived and produced songs. There is really not a dud on the entire project. Of course Cleveland could also sing Presbyterian Book of Church Order and make it sound like Maggies Farm.

I soon discovered Cleveland was an artist and not just a voice; a singer-songwriter with credentials to spare. But still I come back to that voice. Throwing out comparisons and superlatives will do her pipes no justice. A wonderful combination of Joplin passion, Slick rock cred and a bluesy, smokey vibe that is unmatched.

In all honesty this should not have been the only album of hers to make list and that oversight is purely mine. That notwithstanding her debut here stands out heads and shoulders above most of her contemporaries and like nothing else in CCM at the time. I highly recommend her recent traditional blues and Gospel projects as well.

  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    February 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Surprised you did a review of Ashley without mentioning Kenny Greenberg, her ridiculously talented husband/producer/guitarist. With the amount of really great husband/wife teams making music together these days, Ashley and Kenny might be the best.

    I still remember Hiatt appearing on Late Night with David Letterman around 1990 with Ashley and Russ Taff as his backing singers. Hard to beat that trio for pure vocal presence.

  2. Bill B
    May 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

    This is a great album. Actually, every album this lady has done is worth having. Surprised to read that nothing else of Ashley Cleveland will be on this list. :):)

  3. June 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I like this album a lot. In fact, this was the first album I reviewed in my blog called “CCM-kulma”. I have always thought that her voice sounds like Bonnie Tyler but maybe Janis Joplin would sound better.

  4. Greenchili
    December 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Great album all the way around! šŸ˜€

  5. y2daddy
    February 2, 2012 at 1:37 am

    The song “Rebecca” remains my favorite song of all time. I insisted that my daughter be named Rebecca just because of this song.

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