Ashley Condon
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Ashley Condon

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE | AFM

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"CFMA Nominee Spotlight"

If I had a voice like Ashley Condon’s, I’d never, ever, leave the shower again. Little wonder she’s nominated for New/Emerging Artist of the Year at this weekend’s Canadian Folk Music Awards in Calgary. Gathering traction behind her second release, The Great Compromise, she leaves little question she’s well beyond the ‘sophomore jinx’ despite the critical acclaim heaped on 2010’s Come In From The Cold. In fact, this David Francey-produced, 13-track collection proves every bit as powerful as her debut if not somewhat more accomplished in its studied simplicity. It’s all about the purity of Ashley’s voice, and should be, with each track receiving only slight, subtle accompaniment from the accomplished members of Francey’s touring band – Chris Coole (banjo, acoustic guitar, lap steel), Mark Westberg (guitars) and John Showman (fiddle) – with outstanding support from Maritime wunderkind, Darren McMullen (mandolin/mandola, bouzouki, fretless bass), or doing it all by her lonesome on acoustic guitar. Again, purity in its truest form.

Condon stands out beyond the pack for the simple reason that she’s all about the song, where she’s from, her life experience and, with luck, where she’s going. All the colour is found in her beautifully exquisite voice and the way with which she expresses it – she doesn’t need to add much in the way of shading to anything else. In fact, the title track (watch video below) is one of the album’s highlights – just singer, song and acoustic guitar. Nothing cuts through the din like that voice, alone – and it would appear that her producer knows it. All by itself, it’s a warm, East coast invitation to share stories, both happy and sad, the present buoyed by the promise of the future, tempered by the lessons of the past. Condon’s endured more than her share of pain, yet her indomitable spirit, her proud sense of place and those deep-dish dimples all come out in her approach to the music, driven by those inimitable, crystalline vocals. At the same time, there is magic that happens with the combination of Condon’s voice when merged with McMullen’s mandolin/mandola (their virtual duet in “Your Love Is Beautiful”), Coole’s tremelo’d electric guitar (“Gentle Man”) or both banjo and mandolin (“Deep Down In The River”).

Ashley Condon: This Great CompromiseIt’s interesting to note, from the liner notes, that Condon includes the ‘where’ and ‘when’ each composition was written – because it’s important to her. It’s this degree of caring detail that has resulted in another 13 solid originals (3 songs are co-writes) added to the Condon canon – canon being the operative word, as there’s an almost ecclesiastical edge to Condon’s music – deeply intimate, somewhat confessional and decidedly haunting. Some songs prove stronger than others. “Toronto” features a fetching and addictive, sweeping hook despite the potential awkwardness of rhyming its name while the upbeat, down-home swing of “Going to the Country” presents another side of Condon’s rich potential as it provides an opportunity for this band to brew up a proper storm. Call it the “happy, feel-good, sing-along song of the year.” Alternating the mood, when Condon doesn’t have you crying, as she does in her tribute to the hardships she and her mother endured in “Betty’s Song,” she whips up her skirt and leads another brisk sing-along, campfire chorus with “We’ve Got Love,” and the ultimate PEI-homecoming song – the revivalist “I’m Going Home, Amen”.

This is old school folk for an old soul charged with a bright, positive outlook and a big-to-burstin’ heart. Even more proof – as if the rest of the country needed it – that they raise much more than potatoes in PEI.

Good luck, girl. Either way you’re winning. - Eric Thom (Roots Music Canada)

"Ashley Condon - This Great Compromise"

Music Review: Ashley Condon - This Great Compromise
Wed, May 29, 2013.

There's an awful lot of people making folk music these days. At least, what they're calling folk music. The comeback of the fiddle, mandolin and banjo is remarkable, and it seems that half of the young groups I see have some or all of these traditional instruments. But there aren't too many who resist the urge to modernize it as well. You could never call Mumford and Sons old-time, just to name the most obvious and biggest. My favourite description of them is Coldplay, with fiddles.

Ya, most groups want to build up the sound, adding layers of ambiance and extra electric instruments. These days there's obviously a belief that you have to have a trick to get noticed. There aren't many out there purposely keeping it simple. You know, just a acoustic guitar, a little backing, a singer-songwriter, nature, the nature of relationships with the land, the community, people, lovers. Enter Ashley Condon. She's a performer from small-town P.E.I., where life is relatively calm and simple for sure. Except it wasn't always that way for Condon. She lost her father, a fishing captain, when she was six. Then her mother took over the boat, becoming the first female captain in the area. Ashley moved to Toronto for school, and shortly after her mother passed as well, from cancer. Amidst this grief and different career directions, being in a big city, Condon did something most never consider: She went for the simpler life, headed back to PEI, took up folk song writing as a job, and ignored all the modern influences that were starting to take over folk.

Her first album, Come In From The Cold, won her a lot of acclaim, including two Music PEI awards, and nominations from the East Coast Music Awards and Canadian Folk Music Awards. That attention turned more heads, including one very important one. Seems her musical hero has long been Ontario folk giant David Francey, who has been working on the East Coast a lot the past couple of years. Francey was setting up a new record label, loved what he heard from her, and this new album is its first release by another artist. It's called This Great Compromise, and Francey himself produced it.

The songs are made from warm and friendly camp fire instruments, guitar, banjo and fiddle, and not much more. And the simplicity continues with the song structure, both the words and melodies. Most of them are very direct, easy to digest, easy to remember and sing along to. They were composed that way on purpose, Condon even directing her audience at live shows to join in on them before they've ever heard them. They are highly personal, and she's stepped back a few years to give you this life story about a return to simple pleasures. There's Eastbound Train, I'm Going Home, Sea and Land, Going To The Country, and, obviously, Toronto, all songs about making the decision to relocate to PEI. Betty's Song is for her mother, figuring out her strength. And Chamomile Tea, the first folk song she ever wrote, after seeing a David Francey concert, explains the album in one line: "The simple things are just right for me."

Ashley Condon has grabbed the big picture in life, stripped it all back and condensed it into thirteen songs. This is right-to-the-point music, folk at its core best, no wasted words and lots of truths. And the bonus is, her voice and her heart seem directly connected, and both pure. - CBC

"Condon's call to musical glory"

Sometimes a single phone call can change everything.

For P.E.I. singer-songwriter Ashley Condon, the Ringtone of Destiny came a year ago when she was in the middle of weeding her garden in Sturgeon, just down the coast from Montague.

At the other end of the line was Mark Watson, manager for acclaimed Canadian folk singer David Francey and his personal record label, Laker Music.

“He asks me if this is a good time to chat, and I’m standing there with dirt all over my hands, in my ears and up my nose, going, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely!’” recalls the green-thumbed performer, who had no idea about the offer that was to come.

It turned out the Ontario-based, multi-Juno Award-winning songwriter had been searching for an emerging artist to work with and potentially add to the Laker imprint. He’d been keeping his ears open and after a visit to P.E.I. Music Week 2012 a couple of months before — where he and Condon shared the stage for a songwriters’ workshop — he knew he’d found a performer who had all the elements of what he was looking for.

One year later, the result of that phone call is Condon’s sophomore CD, This Great Compromise, recorded at Almonte, Ont.’s Signal Path Studio with Francey in the producer’s chair.

Her clear, strong voice and down-to-earth tunes were brought to full fruition by the masterful backing of Cape Breton multi-instrumentalist Darren McMullen, fiddler John Showman, guitarist Mark Westberg and Chris Coole on banjo and guitar.

The record gets its launch on the mainland this weekend with shows at Halifax’s the Company House on Saturday, a 4 p.m. matinee with the BBQ Kings.

She also has two shows on Sunday, a Lift the Wind house concert in Boutiliers Point at 2 p.m. (email Paula at for more details) and a 7 p.m. show at the West Dublin Hall with Newfoundland and Labrador folk song storyteller Ian Foster.

Condon also has appearances planned for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, July 4-7 and Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Aug. 8-11.

They are additional important steps in this new phase of a music career that turned an unexpected corner last spring after that phone call from Watson.

“I was really thinking, ‘Pinch me!’ " says Condon when asked what was going through her mind at the time.

“Right after my conversation with Mark, my partner Ken came over and asked what was going on, and I just looked at him with this complete sense of peace and calm and told him, ‘I’m making a record with David Francey. That just happened.’ He just went, ‘Wow!’

"We just sat there and stared off into the woods for a while. It was like all that work and sweat and blood and tears and frustration all came together into that one moment, it just felt right to me.”

Condon is referring to the work she put into her first full-length release, 2010’s Come In From the Cold.

A fine debut, full of warmth and humour, she tackled the job of building an audience for it head on, eventually earning some fans and a few nominations for Music Nova Scotia Awards (while she was living in Halifax), East Coast Music Awards and the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

The acknowledgement comes after months of playing shows, attending music conferences, “and postering the frig out of those events and putting my face in front of people over and over again,” she explains.

“One of the main things I learned is that there’s a (crapload) of work to do, to make this happen. Especially with the way the music industry is right now, there’s nobody that’s going to come in and change your career. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it’s not usually just one person.”

But one person can make a difference. Enter Francey, the Scotland-born songwriter and storyteller deemed one of the best in the country.

When he and Condon shared that workshop stage a year-and-a-half ago, it was like a revelation for someone who’s heard nearly every folk musician in the country at this point.

“She just opened her mouth and I just about fell out of my chair,” he recalls. “I was just stunned at how great a singer she was. I’m looking out at the audience, and they’re just thinking, ‘Oh, there’s Ashley, doing her thing,’ and I’m thinking, ‘This girl’s BRILLIANT.’

“I was super-excited, and I heard her a few more times over the course of that week, and when Mark was casting around for somebody to add to our label Laker Music, I told him I’d already found someone. It was kind of a done deal then.”

Condon feels what sealed the deal was her composition Betty’s Song, about her mother’s life as a P.E.I. fisherwoman, and not really understanding what she went through until she became an adult herself, running her own home.

“I had written it two days before this songwriting workshop, and I was really nervous,” she explains.

“I thought maybe it was too personal, and it’s pretty emotional for me to sing it, but I did, and after it was (finished), like the whole room had tears in its eyes.

“Da - The Halifax Herald (by Stephen Cooke)

"Original ideas, wonderful vocals and beautiful musicianship... this sweet down to earth toned album has exceeded all expectations..."

Ashley Condon brings to the music industry a sweet down-to-earth tone that truly captivates the listener and brings to light a joyfulness of acoustic singer-songwriter styles. I like music like this, when you can hear the thought process, listen to the original idea and see how it reaches out with music that is just simply made from the heart. A New Heart has to be one of my favourite tracks, with its sweet harmonies and sing-along chorus and bountiful guitars! Reaching out to the audiences of folk, acoustic country, blues and southern rock, the variety on this album is a real charmer. Featuring award-winning instrumentalist Dale Murray on pedal steel and electric guitar and Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies on mandolin, bass and harmonica, it even has wonderful musicianship to offer. Everything is a song about her mother’s spirit and her questions when someone goes missing in life. It’s a beautiful song and with her warm lavender scented vocals, that drift in and out of grainy and full bodied, to harmonic and compelling, the listener is left in a contemplative mind. The Neighbours Ain’t Home is a country toned song, quirky and vibrant about an unabashed passion. Something Sacred has a rockier tone about it, while Heavy Rain has a driving sound that starts out dark and mysterious and soon moves to a passionate and atmospheric song. Heavy Rain has been played at least ten times already and I will just keep listening—it’s the most moving song on the album and unlike anything I’ve heard in a while. LB - Maverick Magazine UK


Still working on that hot first release.



Raised between two potato fields on Prince Edward Island, Ashley Condon is the grandchild of Bill Leblanc, a Canadian country pioneer who once spent the night in jail with Hank Snow. Like pecan pie sweet and nutty Ashley has won audiences over with her larger-than-life stage presence and down-to-earth charm. Growing up on everything from old-time country to folk, blues and soul, her music resonates.

The success of her 2007 EP I've Got This Feeling garnered the attention of Ontario native and ECMA-nominated producer and musician Joel Hunt (Teresa Ennis, Old Man Leudecke). The two joined creative forces for Ashley's debut, full-length album Come In From The Cold, released on June 15, 2010. Since its release in 2010, Come In From The Cold has been nominated for a 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award, a 2011 East Coast Music Award and has earned the rising star two 2012 Music PEI Awards for New Artist Of The Year and the Lynn Grishko Memorial Bursary. Her highly anticipated sophomore album This Great Compromise is set for release on May 28th, 2013 and was produced by Condons songwriting hero; three-time JUNO award winning singer-songwriter David Francey . Condon is backed on the album by Franceys touring band of Chris Coole (banjo, guitar) and Mark Westberg (guitar), John Showman (fiddle) and by celebrated Maritime multi-instrumentalist Darren McMullen.

The signature track on her Francey-produced sophomore album, This Great Compromise, is Bettys Song, a tribute to Condons mother and a wistful lament over Condons inability, as a teenager to appreciate her mothers strength and perseverance. Other highlights include Gentle Man, a haunting number about an encounter with a stranger; Weve Got Love, a simple love song with a very Francey-like sing-along chorus; Im Going Home, Amen, a rollicking gospel song about moving back to PEI; and the title track, a sophisticated statement about the impact on relationships when partners must leave the province for work.

Having lost both her parents by the age of 22, it is not surprising that Condons music is marked by an astonishing degree of maturity and nuance the kind almost never heard in emerging artists. She has established a reputation in the Maritimes as a powerful writer and singer and an uncommonly-talented entertainer who jokes and tells stories to audiences as naturally as if they were guests in her living room.

Ashley will be doing a national tour of Canada in fall 2013 to support her new album and is playing several Canadian folk festivals this summer including The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival and The Shelter Valley Folk Festival.

"The finest writer and performer I have heard in many years. There is not a song on this record that I wouldn't gladly claim as my own."
-David Francey

"One of the leading lights on the East Coast scene"
-Bob Mersereau, CBC

Ashley Condon brings to the music industry a sweet down-to-earth tone that truly captivates the listener and brings to light a joyfulness of acoustic singer-songwriter styles
Maverick Magazine UK


Ken Spears

Mark Watson
6337 2100 Bloor St. W
Toronto ON Canada M6S 5A5
Direct: +1.905.637.8188

TEL: (902)-326-9173

Band Members