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Asha Jefferies embraces the journey and the destination on Ego Ride

"Ego Ride"

Release date: 12 April 2024
Asha Jefferies Ego Ride cover
11 April 2024, 09:00 Written by Joshua Mills

The debut LP from the Australian singer-songwriter is chock full of life’s contradictions.

One minute she’s spiralling out of control, the next she’s getting her strut on like peak Travolta. Ego Ride oscillates between a young woman running from romance and charging towards new love.

It’s packed with big feelings and tiny, lived in details. The terrific, slow burning opener speaks of a relationship that seems to be going to plan until suddenly it absolutely isn’t. The narrator’s booking flights: “I forgot your date of birth / you broke down and reminded me.” As the tension mounts, the drums becoming massive, the piano swelling and crashing around the couple, Jefferies sings “Darling sometimes I feel like a stranger / In myself / In my body / When you hold me.” The climax is almost acapella, one part lyrics, one part wordless bellowing of frustration, acceptance, freedom, all or none of the above.

Similarly dramatic – an and effective – is “Spinning”. The most patient cut on the record, it’s a rare “things will get better!!” song delivered almost entirely without cheese. Again Jefferies compliments quotidian details - citing getting “so damn good at parking” as something to look forward to - with stirring, powerful instrumentation. Appropriately enough, “Spinning” is in constant motion, the chugging guitar slowly building up before paying off with a brief blast of full band, full heart stadium pop rock. It’s served up in a small dose, which is how that kind of stuff should be served, but the song’s well worthy of its high octane conclusion.

Ego Ride is good for a more straightforward serving of indie, too. “Keep My Shit Together” is a highlight, a laid-back lust song with one of the record’s stickiest choruses. The detail on the album is always impressive; the whooshing, delay-laden riff between the verses sounds great, and the twinkling, buzzing keyboards give a bit of a mid-’00s feel. “Baby Don’t Fight It” is another winner. It’s a little more oblique lyrically but the wash of warm, comforting guitars is particularly lush. There’s a satisfying twang at play here; tweak the instrumentation a touch and it’d be in Sheryl Crow's wheelhouse.

The album suffers from a few too many mid-tempo tracks, or perhaps more accurately, too many mid-tempo tracks one after another. “Golden Hour” isn’t the most melodically interesting cut to start with, but it feels a tad ill-placed, slowing things down further where a jolt of energy would help. This is to the detriment of follow up “Tank Tops”, an exploration of one’s queerness and maybe the most lyrically deft piece on offer, but not an energy raiser by any means.

Luckily, lead single “Brand New Bitch” is there to do that job. It’s a shoulder shaker of a tune, the drums taking a battering, a vintage-sounding bassline leading the way. A fair few of Ego Ride’s tunes take a circuitous route to explore a decision, a relationship, a feeling - this one’s as direct as it gets.

Ego Ride ends on the strongest of terms with the title track. Again, contrast is used to great effect. The music’s as straightforward as it gets: an unchanging three chord keyboard pattern and a kick drum, that’s your lot. The lyrics, meanwhile, are scattershot, stream of consciousness, as the narrator considers the important people in her life, the reasons behind her own actions, meaningless conversations, decisions good and bad, anything and everything.

If there is a throughline to Ego Ride, it’s one of forward motion, of accepting yourself and working out what’s right for you. Asha Jefferies invites us along on her own journey, but the stops she takes along the way will resonate with a wide audience.

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