I first met Sasha McVeigh at Country 2 Country this year, she was doing a signing after her set and I went over to talk to her; she was just as lovely as her songs! So I feel very privileged and very excited to be reviewing her new album “I Stand Alone.” Sasha is making waves in the UK Country music scene and has been supported by BBC Introducing and Coast to Coast AM in the States. She has played on the main stage at some major Country music festivals around the world and her latest release will surely back up what Sasha has done so far as well as bring in new fans and followers.
The album begins with “Mr Brown Eyes,” the intro is filled with traditional Country instrumentation, introducing us to the rest of the album and what we can expect from it. The verse hears Sasha’s warm, mature vocals come in and in true Country fashion it’s a storytelling song, starting with the line “Once upon a time.” “Stupid Girl” follows then, the intro reminding me a little of “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack and features the line “For the first time in a long time, I let my heart hold the reins.” In the verses Sasha demonstrates her lower vocal range, and this gives her space to allow her vocals to build throughout the song. This is your classic Country-Pop song in every sense of the word, from the instrumentation, structure and the catchy chorus which will be stuck in my head for the foreseeable future!
The third song on the album takes a typical topic, love, and addresses it in a different way. “Someone To Break My Heart” features some fantastic and effective backing vocals and clever lyrics. There is some call and response between the vocal melodies and the pedal steel. My only complaint about the song is that it’s not long enough! The title track follows and keeps the momentum up. The song gives a strong message and Sasha’s vocals are strong too, you can tell its sung with passion. It’s a song about accepting yourself even if people put you down or push you out. It’s very relatable for many young adults and teenagers today. It’s the first opportunity we get to hear Sasha’s more Country-Rock side and it’s certainly the highlight of the album for me!
“You Only Live Once” is a feel good number with cleverly written lyrics. The song is on a similar vein to Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” In fact many of the songs on the album could be by the Dixie Chicks or The Band Perry or even younger Taylor Swift because the calibre of the songwriting and production is as good as these top class, number 1, Country hit makers! “Hot Mess” is an edgier track about rebellion, another Country-Rock number with a catchy chorus and “Time of My Life” features effective use of backing vocals and a wonderfully-executed fiddle solo. Then we hear “Crooked Road” and we’re introduced to the softer and perhaps more delicate, emotional side of Sasha’s songwriting skills. It’s a strong song on the album and one of my favourites.
Once again we see Sasha’s more feisty side in Country-Rock song, “No Strings Attached Romance.” Another song about love and rebellion featuring the line “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The verses are filled with small details which builds the scene in your head and after the second verse there is an impressive electric guitar solo. “Two Ships” is a song many of us can relate to, about a person who was once so present in your life, a lover or friend, and asking do you think of me at all? And acknowledging that they’re now strangers “just two ships passing in the dark.” We hear Sasha’s higher vocal register in this song and I like the fade out to conclude the main body of the album.
Then we have two bonus tracks, an acoustic version of “Stupid Girl” which is a great addition to hear a stripped back version of the song, after all this is probably how the song was first written. Then there is a work tape of “You Only Live Once” similar to what Taylor Swift did on the Deluxe Edition of 1989, it shows a snippet of how the writers work on songs which I think is a fantastic idea for fans and is inspiring to budding songwriters hearing how their favourite songs were created.
Overall I think this album will be my summer soundtrack! It has everything you’d expect from a Country album of today, with production dominated by electric guitars and pedal steel melodies with fiddle, banjo and mandolin playing a huge role throughout the album as well. But Sasha’s vocals are unique as is her songwriting. Though we hear some typical Country themes throughout her lyrics she takes your usual everyday topics and addresses them in different ways. “I Stand Alone” oozes with positivity and I’m very excited for Sasha and what the future holds for her as I believe this album will be well received both in the UK and the US!
Just Zoe x