Amanda Ashby grew up singing in many kid’s choirs and musicals. She was accepted into the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Amanda is based in Greenville, South Carolina. Her website states: “Amanda Ashby’s passion surfaces through her sincere lyrics and vibrant melodies. Her music is a transparent window to the soul...Simply put, she connects with her audiences, leading them into authentic and true worship.” Amanda has just released a seven song ep entitled SCREAMIN’ (2013, INOV8 Music Group).
‘Don’t Let Me Down’ is a Christian rock song with a punch. Lyrically, it is about spiritual renewal: “Flashes of light that I once remember, glimpses of a passion consumed/Ripping my soul, my spirit falters, I can’t control this burning in me.../Can you see it?/Can you hear it coming like a rushing wind?/Fire in me is burning/Burn it all through me again.” Next up is Amanda’s cover of the terrific praise and worship song ‘The Anthem’ by The Planet Shakers. It declares, without question, who Christ is and what He has done: “Hallelujah, You have won the victory/Hallelujah, You have won it all for me/Death could not hold You down/You are the risen King/Seated in majesty/You are the risen King.” Musically, ‘Through it All’ reminds me of Twila Paris’ lighter fare. This song finds Amanda pressing into the Lord: “Desperately seeking more of You, more of You/Watching my tears fall on You, fall on You/Come and break these chains that overwhelm/With me always I believe/And I will praise You all of my days/I will give You all of my praise/Undo me and help my unbelief.”
The title track, ‘Screamin’, is a dazzling heavy rock track with good electric guitar work. These words remind us of the necessity and difficulty of submitting our will to God’s: “I have scattered visions invading my soul/Trying to focus on the One who makes me whole/Pursuing His dreams, pursuing His goals/Afraid to admit I can’t do it alone/Blinded by pride, it darkened my sight/Surrendering my life.../Come release me, surrender all my dreams/Come rescue me, surrendering all of me.” ‘Lullaby’ is one of two songs on the ep written by Amanda’s husband Grady. It imagines God gently offering words of comfort to a person with a troubled heart: “When life has caused you too much pain/Your dreams will take you away/As you fade off peacefully/You’ll find you’re here with Me/Hush now, sleep now/Don’t you cry/You’re only a moment away/Hush now, sleep now/Close your eyes/Sleep, dream, you’re free.”
‘Breathe’, one of four songs penned solely by Amanda, is tender sounding and features keys. These words paint a picture of intimacy with God: “The fears, the doubts, the insecurities/All loyalties are set aside, my spirit longing to abide with You/Not a word is spoken, though I feel Your breath on my skin/Silently holding my hand, You’re drawing me in/Breathe on me once again.” The last song, ‘Redeemed’, is really top notch. It has no chorus and is the most artistic and appropriately dramatic. This song makes it clear that a spiritual prodigal can indeed come back to the Father: “Haunted by the brighter days of when I believed/In Christ, the Son of Man, God, and all His enemies/But blinded by my foolish, lying ways/I numbed my faith/Now I walk, I walk these streets alone/Of my reality/I’m wasting all my time, as the demons rise inside/And battle over me.../So I pray, Lord how I pray to be redeemed/And I fight, I’m fighting for my life and my sanity/I ain’t wasting no more time, I’m coming forth tonight/As I begin to scream/I believe.”
SCREAMIN’ was produced by Sean Hill of Uphill Studios, mixed by Tony Palacios of Guardian fame, and mastered by Scott Sanchez. Amanda has a real strong voice that is suited both to rock music and praise and worship music. It is encouraging to see young people such as herself serving the Lord with their talents. If you have a teenage daughter, you should get this ep that is contemporary and focused on God, into her hands. I look forward to hearing more from Amanda in the future. I’m rating SCREAMIN’ 86% and recommending it to fans of Fireflight and Krystal Meyers. For more info visit www.amandaashbymusic.com and www.inov8music.com.