Full Original Article by Ed Masley. Our featured excerpt is below:

5/20: Whitherward CD release party

Ashley E. Norton was a fixture on the Valley music scene before moving from Scottsdale to Nashville, forming Whitherward in 2013 with Edward A. Williams. In 2015, the duo threw their belongings into storage and hit the road, embarking on several cross-country loops while releasing four EPs from a moving Subaru.

With the addition of Valley musicians Stephanie Groot on violin and Patrick Hershey on upright bass, they settled down in Arizona for two months to produce their first full-length release. The crowd-funded album was produced, engineered, written and recorded by Whitherward at Gold Capp Studios, with the help of Tony King on drums and studio owner, Thomas Max Massano, assistant engineering. They considered hiring a producer, Norton says, but decided they “wouldn’t necessarily get a better product, just different.”

The album is named for a song about a woman who loses herself in an unrequited love, only to be set free by a snail. “Whether he’s a friend, lover or extension of herself is for you to decide,” Norton says. “We wanted to title the album after this song, because it symbolizes so much. Freedom. Friendship. Strength. if you listen closely, we actually reference ‘The Anchor’ in almost every song. Both musically, and lyrically. The intro to ‘Isadora’ is the guitar riff. The glockenspiel part in one of the songs also references the melody, as well as the solo in ‘The Night I Fell For You.’ We also reference lyrics to it in this song in ‘Nephew’ and ‘Wasteland.’ There are others, but we won’t give them away just yet.”

They’re joined at the release show by Sydney Sprague and Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers, for whom playing with Norton is always a thrill.

“I met Ashley a few years ago at a Chicks with Picks event with her creative partner and local artist, Michelle Penington,” Pacey recalls. “They had a small promo company, Juliet Pro, and I hired them to make my show fliers. Later on, Ashley took a chance on me and hired me to open for her with a few tunes at Wrigley Mansion. I was early and was there when she pulled in with her sound gear, and seeing her with sound gear blew my mind; I only had a Street Cube at the time, too afraid to buy anything more real…and I only played on the street for the most part then. Anyway, Ashley set it up like a boss and I was sold. If she could do so could I! Without her chutzpah, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 20. Pho Cao, 7436 E. McDowell Road, Scottsdale. 480-947-2608, phocaoaz@gmail.com.

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