Ash-ling (n): a dream or vision

This Gaelic title appropriately describes the debut full length album of Rachel Merchand as it draws on her journey from dreams to reality. Ten beautifully honest songs pour forth from her soul, speaking of love, struggle, and the pursuit of truth. The lyrics are striking and the melodies provoking, as she gives the listener a glimpse into her heart.

Dawning from the Green Mountains of Vermont, Rachel has brought a fresh and thought-provoking perspective into acoustic-rock genre. She began performing at age 13, but did not begin writing music until 21. "I was trying so hard to incorporate tons of chords and write something poetic - I really didn't even know how to play the guitar... I gave up and that is when I wrote 'Humble'."

In April of 2003, Rachel independently released an EP, New Version of Me. The direction of this recording quickly shifted her musical career from an occasional pastime to a focused endeavor. Music then became a priority and led to a move to Charlotte, NC to pursue music full-time. It was there that the isolation of a new city laid the foundation for her new release.

In the past year, Rachel has performed solo at various venues along the east coast including, The Inside Out Soul Fest (Laconia, NH) and Tremont Music Hall (Charlotte, NC). These opportunities enabled her to expand her fan base and move out beyond Charlotte. New Version of Me is currently aired on radio stations around the US, web radio world wide and was featured on the television show, Steelroots.

Rachel’s choice to remain independent from corporate media stems from her desire to maintain her unique artistic integrity. This resulted in the recruitment of Matt Malpass (¡El Toro!, The Apprentice) at Marigolds & Monsters Studios for production and Doug Van Sloun (Bright Eyes, The Faint) at Studio B for mastering. Various musicians scattered on the album, include Matt Goldman (Copeland, Anberlin) and cellist Jennifer Millis (Charlotte Junior Symphony).

The Ashling delicately breaks down issues into basic pleas for help, confronts the hard times with honest desperation yet come to hopeful conclusions. As you experience the joys and struggles of your own journey, may you be inspired and moved by these songs.

I am sipping coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops in town and am supposed to be writing an article when a wave of sensation rushes my consciousness unlike anything I have ever felt before. This audible stimulation is wrapped in the smoothest vocals and is purely feminine. The lyrics say everything I have ever wanted to say as a writer and I am mesmerized. I cannot write, I can only listen for I feel as if I am closer to understanding what it means to be human via singer-songwriter Rachel Merchand. No, she is not related to Natalie Merchant and no she does not sound like Jewel, Sarah McLauchlan or any of the other female musicians in main stream music. Merchand's music is a genre within itself and unparagoned with acoustic guitar and honest perspective.

With a voice that charmingly evokes the human experience, Merchand's paints the world in all of its allure and invites you to come along for the ride. If life had a soundtrack, I would want it be Merchand's album New Versions of Me.

- Helana Brigman, Promoter & Columnist

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One of my closest friends and I have had numerous discussions over the years of the state of Christian music. I've had to grudgingly agree, frankly: Christian music has not really been up to the par that it should be lately. But there's a new generation of artists who love the Lord that are making extraordinary tunes with uncommon soul.

Rachel Merchand, a Vermont native now gracing the city of Charlotte, NC, is one. Last night I had the privilege of attending a thirty-minute set of hers at the Jammin' Java Coffee House in downtown Columbia, and was blown away. Having found a link to her page on MySpace, which automatically begins streaming the artist's songs, I sat stunned and delighted that a woman with this kind of voice and acoustic rock talent was using it in the Lord's service.

I'm not the kind of person that just goes to a show and buys a CD. In fact, I'm not usually the kind of person that goes to a show. But I'm glad I made this one—and the disc I bought, Rachel's 2003 EP New Version of Me, is one I'm glad to have added to my collection. The sound system at the coffee house was acceptable for a live venue, but doesn't do justice to this young lady's voice and talent wielding a guitar.

Her heart-felt love for God and the talent with which He has graciously endowed her both shine through, live or on the EP available from Steelroots. Two thumbs up.

- Michael Phillips,

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"It(My Love) is lyrically directional and evoking, as well as musically anticipatory. I love how clean Rachel's songs are while lush with associations, emotion and atmosphere inducing tones. A certain audibly colorful mesmerizing consistency in each song."

- Maxim Vakhovskiy, Charlotte, NC

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"I saw you playing at the Carptenter's Cellar on Friday night and I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed are one of the best people I've heard there so far!"

- Raquel Paulino, Greenville, SC

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"We were extremely blown away by her vocal talent and song writing ability..."

- Krista Lawson, The Potters Cafe

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"Rachel Merchand's voice truly captivates, taking one to another where things move more slowly, where you can catch your breath and just soak in the peace, softness and harmony of her music. She's someone to keep an eye on, a definite up and comer!"

- Mia Kim, A&R/RTO Records

The Ashling
{Oct 2005}
1. Dreams
2. My Love
3. You Cause Me To Break
4. Cinderella
5. Distance Is Too Far
6. Endless Day
7. Undone
8. These Tears
9. Humble
10. Outro

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Lyrics for The Ashling

New Version of Me
{April 2003}
1. Dreams
2. Angel
3. You Are
4. My Friend
5. Humble

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Lyrics for New Version of Me

Key of David Coffee House
Calvary Chapel

Miami Contrast

Salem The Fountain Stage ~ The Gathering
West Boylston Holy Grounds Coffee House

North Carolina
Aberdeen The Potter’s Cafe
Calvary Chapel of the Sandhills
Boiling Springs Gardner-Webb University
Charlotte Tremont Music Hall
Neighborhood Theatre
The Evening Muse
Cafe Joie de Vivre
Kaldi’s Koffee
The Door Coffee House
SK Net Cafe
Dillworth Coffee (Park Rd)
Dillworth Coffee (Brookshire Fwy)
Cafe Cafe
The Well
Double Door Inn
Cream & Bean
Greensboro Solaris Tapas Resteraunt & Grill
Huntersville CCC Annual Fall Festival
Raleigh Starbucks Coffee - South Street

New Hampshire
West Lebanon
Inside Out Soul Festival
Grace Outreach

Kennett Square
The Garage
Circle of Hope

South Carolina
Columbia Jammin Java
Caffe Corner
Florence Aroma Underground
Greenville Carpenter’s Cellar
Myrtle Beach The Lime Light
Fresh Brewed Coffee
Sumter The Collective

Cranston, RI
North Kingston, RI
Woburn, MA


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March 2005
~ David Schrott
Columbia, SC - CRomano Columbia, SC - CRomano Columbia, SC - CRomano Columbia, SC - CRomano
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