Ashtray HeartsOld NumbersFree Election

by Briana Riplinger

Dan Richmond, lead singer and songwriter of the Ashtray Hearts, is a local music hero. Besides running the label Free Election, Richmond is also the program director at KFAI. This guy deserves praise, but not necessarily for Old Numbers. The melancholy album evokes an image of a dimly lit alt-country bar where sad twenty-somethings cry in their beer and slow dance.

Old Numbers does have its moments. The musicianship, specifically, Aaron Schmidt on trumpet, piano and Steve Yernberg on guitar and banjo, is exceptional. And there are moments (like the beautiful guitar interlude on “Queen South”) that showcase their skills and manage to sound intriguing. Unfortunately those moments are rare and lost in the over all one-sad-song feel to the entire album. Lyrically, most of the songs are literary and dry. The lines “Are you still sad when you wake up/ are you still sad that it’s you I hold on to” on “Southern Wedding” sum up the lyrical tone behind The Ashtray Hearts. Themes of depression, sparseness and hopelessness haunt each song, sounding overly desperate; Richmond’s almost-whines are too much to take.

-Briana Riplinger