Like a Rose
Warner Music Nashville

Ashley Monroe is an old soul wise beyond her years. Clear evidence: The Nashville resident’s Like a Rose. Monroe’s buoyant sophomore full-length album — and first release since her time in the Miranda Lambert-focused mainstream spotlight as one of the Pistol Annies — backs equal measures edge (“Weed Instead of Roses”) and energy (“Monroe Suede”) with a seasoned songwriter’s lyrical elegance (“Used”). “I was only 13 when daddy died and momma started drinking and my brother just quit trying,” the 26-year-old sings on the opening title track. “I’m still bouncing back, heaven only knows how I came out like a rose.” The new collection seamlessly swaps earthy (“Two Weeks Late”) and engaging narratives (“She’s Driving Me Out of Your Mind”) throughout, and the sharp storytelling only briefly wanes (the relatively faceless “You Got Me”). The album’s closer alone suggests that Monroe could be the Pistol Annie to keep an eye on from this point forward. “Well, I noticed you right off the bat in those cowboy boots/Who couldn’t help but see you in that rhinestone suit?” goes the back-and-forth on the cheeky Blake Shelton duet “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter),” a kindred spirit to Hayes Carll’s “Another Like You.” “That’s ’cause I’m the reigning queen of karaoke night/Well, if I get drunk enough to sing, hell, I just might.” Their push and pull delivers traditional country music at its best. — BRIAN T. ATKINSON

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