"Third Degree" by Ivy AshReview
Following July's "Rain Again" single, the effervescent Ivy Ash is back with the fourth release of her swiftly developing career, namely "Third Degree" which comes out on next Tuesday (26th October). It's already been picked as track of the week on BBC Introducing for Leicester before it's even on sale.
Ivy was fortunate enough to receive funding from the "Developing Your Creative Practice" project of Arts Council England and "Third Degree" is the first fruit from this, as it was written during "development and creation" time enabled by the grant.
Focusing on "discovering your boundaries, taking control, and realising how to move forward", the song takes up the baton from "Rain Again" in terms of looking at more profound topics than the jaunty tune would at first suggest: Ivy deals in feel good music but you'd be missing most of her intention if you don't listen to what she's saying and take it onboard. I'd admit that some (huge selling) pop songs sound like a good piece of music with some random words strewn over it as if it's obligatory to set lyrics but it doesn't really matter what they are. Ivy doesn't subscribe to this approach (nor to be fair do any of our other local pop artists: at least the ones we cover in this magazine). This work deserves your attention.
"Effervescent" is certainly how Ivy comes across on first acquaintance and the whole Ivy Ash music project is predicated upon a pop approach to engaging with audiences: a lightness of musical touch, regardless of deeper lyrical intent, in order to draw people into engagement. However there is a hidden infrastructure of steel holding the edifice up. You have read above that this song was planned most carefully during discrete planning time (how many artists get that opportunity) and repeated listens will gradually reveal how much thought and care has gone into every moment of "Third Degree" and then realised by immaculate production. The final commendation is that once this is all in hand, Team Ivy have left sufficient spontaneity of performance and that lightness of touch to ensure that the final result comes across as neither cynically constructed nor formulaic.
That said, "Third Degree" is a clear development of the Ivy Ash sound, moving onwards from her previous releases to give a certain tougher sound to set the defiance of what she is singing about (and the artwork, which Ivy spends a lot of time getting just right, also shows a more serious person). This is by no means an urban single, nor does the feistiness quotient make her sound too much like say Abz Winter in terms of calling anyone out, (there is a high sassiness factor in play too) but neither is "Third Degree" too much like debut single "Oops". Ivy Ash, with only three songs out there so far (though of course "Oops" also came out in an acoustic format) has already demonstrated an admirable breadth of variety (within a carefully defined style) and this no doubt was all part of her plan. With "Oops" Ivy may well have gained new fans who liked her (and possibly fancied her): with "Third Degree" I suspect she now has their respect too.
A "…..dramatic, bold, and self-empowered.." music video for the single is set for release in November 2021 and you can pre-save "Third Degree" ahead of Tuesday's release via this link here: https://li.sten.to/IvyAsh?fbclid=IwAR1Mq79WK8fO9kMmW-jQrskqVSAiS_OFU9XKYwBn4Ql_S47dZujY8iv5JRM