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The Secretariat Motor Hotel

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Album Review

Ashley Park's third album, The Secretariat Motor Hotel, is a low-key shambling gem of a record. In the same ballpark as fellow country-rock explorers as Beachwood Sparks and Lowlights, Ashley Park blends strummed acoustic guitars, lightly brushed drums, and judiciously applied walls of organs, horns, and pedal steels with wispy vocals to come up with a modern-day update on Gram Parson's cosmic country sound. Terry Miles has written his strongest batch of songs to date. He wrote over 100 songs for the record and narrowed it down to the final 12, each of them written about occupants of the fictional Secretariat Motor Hotel. Catchy, heartfelt and frequently heartbroken, the songs stack up well against the songs of any band currently plowing the country-rock landscape. The back porch singalong "A Letter to the Mounties," hopeful and heart-on-its-sleeve "Change Things," and rollicking "Rocco the Policeman (And His Dog)" are the best of a glittering lot. The only complaint with the record is that Kelly Haigh's beautifully understated background vocals are too infrequently utilized. When she does show up, as on "The Lonely Lights of Home" or "Change Things," her presence adds another dimension to the sound and helps to balance Miles' sometimes tiringly nasal vocals. That's just a minor complaint; this record is going to knock out anyone lucky enough to hear it.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Vancouver's Ashley Park became a musical project after Terry Miles and his friends originally planned on making a short documentary celebrating America's simplistic beauty interpreted through modern literature, innocent daydreams, and childhood pastimes. Instead, Miles formed a band and created storybook...
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