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Album Review: Stardust EP
Alise Ashby
Cover image of the album Stardust EP by Alise Ashby
Stardust EP
Alise Ashby
2024 / Heart Dance Records
23 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
I'm not sure why I haven't discovered Alise Ashby's music before this, but I'm so glad Tom Eaton, who mixed, mastered and produced the album, recommended that she contact me about reviewing her Stardust EP! The album is a collection of seven original piano solos and piano-based instrumentals "that deeply resonate with the soul, guiding listeners on a serene voyage of tranquility and calmness through captivating melodies." (This is quoting Alise's promo material, but I agree completely!) With all of the chaos and confusion bombarding the whole world lately, this album can provide us with a safe, dreamy respite. Its playing time is 23 minutes, but I can honestly say that the album can be played over and over without losing its beauty or getting stale. I would expect that Stardust EP would work well as soothing background music, but listeners who love quiet, soulful piano music will want to savor it with full attention in order to fully appreciate the magical quality of Alise's music.

Alise Ashby is a British pianist, composer and songwriter based New England (USA). Her music spans the genres of cinematic, jazz, world, new age and meditative instrumentals as well as pop ballads and love songs. Her multi-instrumental work has been featured in commercials and films, and her 2019 Diamonds EP was honored with Akademia Music's "Best Ambient Instrumental" award for that year.

Stardust EP begins with "Morning Light," a beautiful piano solo that gently welcomes a new day with hope and optimism. Delicate and dreamy, it's a wonderful start, drawing you in as it begins to soothe any stress you might be experiencing. "Reflections in A minor" is somewhat more classical, although subtle washes of atmospheric synth strings keep it in the present. Introspective and tinged with just a bit of melancholy, it's one of my favorites (although I really like them all!). "Open To Love" was inspired by John Barry's Out of Africa theme and serves as a reminder to always be open to love in all of the many ways it can appear in our lives. "Twilight" reflects on Alise's love of nature and the quiet of twilight, offering a gentle mind-massage as well as an invitation to take a deep, relaxing breath. "Stardust" was born on Christmas night of 2023 when Alise was feeling the magic of all that life offers us. Synth washes in the background give the piece a slightly mysterious tone. "Mariposa" was composed in remembrance of Alise's mother-in-law, who loved butterflies. A deeply emotional piano solo, Alise really pours her heart and soul into this one as she reflects on the loss of someone very special and the beauty she brought into the world. "Solace" is about finding comfort and peace while experiencing the more challenging moments in our lives. Feeling much like a warm, lingering hug from a dear friend, it's the perfect ending to this outstanding album.

Stardust EP is available to stream or download from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and Bandcamp, and is also available on the various streaming platforms, including Spotify. Very highly recommended!
July 5, 2024
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