Sugar Lime Blue has been praised heavily in the Murfreesboro area, most often for an authentic, blues-heavy song craft and Ashley Beth’s full-bodied bluesy lilt to match. Far From The Tree, released earlier this year, validates both. Twelve tracks of blues range from hot and slow-dripping to gritty and fast-burning. It’s apparent that they know their blues, but they also clearly know the West as they channel the laidback California acoustic pop in addition to Deep South back porch sound; Far From The Tree sounds as if Sheryl Crow moved to the Mississippi Delta after her self-titled debut and went native.
Ashley Beth’s vocals are deep and expressive, reaching for notes with impressive range and soulfulness. She keeps an even alto through a lot of rollicking percussion, breezy acoustic and hot wiry licks, all of which are strongly reminiscent of Crow. Sometimes a Natalie Merchant influence slips in as well, like in the dark bass and intermittently bubbling keys paired with Beth’s dusky, smooth pipes in “Don’t Let it Bring You Down.” The band also offers some subtle flattery to Tennessee in “No Road Back to Texas.” Beth sings, “They say the sky in Texas stretches on forever/I like the one in Tennessee so much better.”
Sugar Lime Blue does best with its slow tempo jams and deadbeat bar blues numbers sung from the bottom of a bottle, particularly “I Don’t Have to Explain Myself.” That’s really the essence of the band—listenable bar music that combines earthy pop and old soul blues with strong, unwavering vocals.