For years, actor/singer Daphne Ashbrook has been asked, “When are you going to finally record an album?” With an impressive list of TV & film roles to her credit, few realized that Daphne is also a gifted singer. But with her busy acting career it wasn’t easy to find time to nurture her passionate connection to music. Interestingly, it was Daphne’s daughter Paton, herself an actor & singer, who providedthe impetus for her mother’s debut album, Grace Notes.
“I knew it was time to record my first album when I heard Paton & I harmonize together one day just before she went off to college,” recalls Daphne. “I was very moved by the perfectblend of our voices. My late father had told me ‘don’t ever stop singing’. I did for awhile. But I then realized that it’s a big part of who I am.”
The chance to sing with her daughter Paton sealed the deal. “Music runs thru the viens of my family like theatre does,” said Daphne. Her uncle was renown ‘folkist’ Sandy Paton (Folk-Legacy Records), to whom this work is dedicated, & “singing was a big feature anytime the clan would gather.” Inspired by singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin & Patty Griffin, the artist chose tunes that profoundly touched her heart. “I love songs that tell stories, like ‘Useless Desires’ by Patty Griffin & Joni’s ‘Furry Sings the Blues’. They make you feel something, something real.” Just as her acting skills range from the dramatic to the comedic, Daphne also was attracted to songs with ironic humor, like Griffin’s “One Big Love”, the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” & the jazzy Billie Holiday-esque “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” which is a tongue-in-cheek nod to her best known film role in Doctor Who. “Of course, Rickie Lee Jones’ ‘Horses’ is my ode to my daughter,” Daphne says.
The only ‘chart-topper’ on the CD is Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.” Producer David Vito Gregoli explains: “I’d heard that this was the song Daphne auditioned for her director father when she was just 12. Kinda full circle, you know?” Vito brought his own song, “The Road Less Traveled,” because he knew “Daphne would find the spirit of it. The danger of an ‘inspirational’ lyric is coming across preachy, but Daphne is so sincere & relatable.” Stylistically in the Americana/Pop vein, the project features acoustic instruments like piano, guitar, flute, dobro, mandolin & banjo, often blended with electric guitars, synths & drum grooves.
Besides Paton & multi-instrumentalist David Vito Gregoli, Grace Notes also features guests singer Jennifer Silver, keyboardists David Joyce (Burt Bacharach/Natalie Cole), Jim Tauber (Tori Amos), & drummer John Mahon (from Elton John’s band).” Grace Notes is an expression of Daphne’s personality,” says Vito. “Her approach to these songs is intimate, tinged with humor yet often poignant.” Daughter Paton agrees: “If you want to know Daphne, listen to Grace Notes.”
“Certain songs on this album are pretty much guaranteed to make me shed a tear or two; with others, my spirit soars.” Daphne’s voice, reminiscent of the deep bluesy quality of a Joni Mitchell, has a simple beauty & clarity. She brings her own interpretation to some of my favorite tunes & makes them memorable.” — T. Randal
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