Review: Sasha Colette & the Magnolias 'Ridin' Away'

By Dave Mistich

On the surface, Sasha Colette may appear to be an innocent country girl with a pretty voice. And while that evaluation is certainly accurate, her newest release—with the magnificent Magnolias backing her up—signals that it’s high time we start taking this young lady and her band very seriously.
Having recently transplanted herself into the Huntington, West Virginia scene that’s embraced her, Colette and company would have been hard pressed to find a title more appropriate than Ridin’ Away.
It’s an EP release that stretches—in more ways than one—far beyond it’s 17 minutes. But more importantly, it explores deeply rooted themes of country in songs about goodbyes and cowboys and fables of the faux-west that Colette identifies as Appalachia.
While the first two tracks (“Leroy” and “Hi Ho Silver”) zip by without ever quite grabbing hold past clever fictional storytelling, “Red Bandana” opens up, yet somehow goes introspective. Towards the end, Jeremy Short’s tasteful solos and Colette’s gut wrenching repeated ending lyrics steal the moment: “I pull my heart out every night and go for broke.” It ends strongly, yet almost too suddenly, giving way to the soulful title track.
“Riding Away” strikes as the rawest song on the record, even though it sounds the most produced. It's a tune heavy on vague storytelling, moments of precise tension and release, and solidified with a memorable chorus; there’s a ton of Americana stations that would eat the track up if given the chance to play it.
But it’s with “Goodbye Buffalo” and Short’s melodic slides that stretch nearly as wide as the miles covered and emoted through Colette’s geographic nostalgia. Sure, it’s a personal acknowledgment of her recent move to Huntington, but it’s a universal subject that isn’t lost on Colette herself; there’s a real resonance in this reflection. It’s not sadness over displacement, but rather a coming-to-terms proclamation.
If there’s any disappointment in the record, it’s that it’s simply too short and doesn’t dare to give Miss Colette the chance to display her vocal talents to the extent we’ve seen in a live setting. (Don't confuse this statement--they're damn good, but certainly not nearly as captivating as watching and hearing her perform.) Maybe it’s humility or a dedication to serving the song, but let's just hope Ridin’ Away serves as a springboard for Colette vocally, rather than a template for live performances of the songs enclosed.

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