Released this past February 3rd, the new release from Dan Ashley, “Lucky Stars,” starts off modestly, with nothing more than a single piano leading us through the dark silence, its melody seeming to reach out to anyone listening in hopes of finding a friendly soul. Even before Ashley begins to sing, there’s a weighty emotionality hanging over the song as it comes into focus, this instrumental introduction acting as a precursor to all of the decadence that will soon wash over us in a sonic deluge. When verses finally do come into the fold, we’re already primed for anything they could possibly vault in our direction – however, the same cannot be said for the tone in which this singer will croon them to us. The warmth of his voice extends itself to us over the piano and growing guitar presence, and though we’re not even sixty seconds into “Lucky Stars,” it is obvious that we aren’t going to be hearing just another run of the mill adult contemporary ballad in the next three and a half minutes or so.
Dan Ashley takes a minute to find his footing against the backdrop of the instrumentation, but once he locates the confidence that was ever-present in his last two singles (“My Favorite Time of Year,” a seasonal release, and “What Really Matters,” his 2019 sleeper hit), it’s next to impossible to stop his swaggering personality from spreading to anyone within earshot of the verse. He’s an unflappable tour de force in “Lucky Stars,” and though there is certainly a lot we could say about the ethereal musical spectacle taking place right beside him amongst the backing band’s play, there’s not a second in this song where he isn’t rightly earning the lion’s share of the audience’s attention with his majestic serenade. This is the most pronounced his vocal attack has ever been, and while I liked his first pair of tracks to debut just last year, they pale in comparison to the aesthetical wonderwork he’s assembled for us in this latest submission.
“Lucky Stars” concludes with a heck of a lot more bombast than it initially starts us off with, but while it isn’t lacking in lavishness as it retreats into the silence from which it was first sprung up only a few short minutes earlier, I think its finish is probably its most striking moment. Dan Ashley assumes his rightful place in the hierarchy of independent adult contemporary artists in “Lucky Stars,” and depending on how he chooses to broach the next chapter in the story of his career, I think this could wind up being one of the most important songs he cuts as a relative unknown. He’s rolling like a genuine professional in this single, depending more on his natural talents than he is any of the bells and whistles in the master mix, and finding a unique balance between the folk-rock rhythms of yesteryear and the modern pop melodies of today that could appeal to just about anyone who loves quality music.