Ashley Monroe doesn't gild the lily. As Chuck Eddy wrote today in his review of her Essential new album Like a Rose, Monroe and her country peer Kacey Musgraves stand out in Nashville by showing the despair in rural blue-collar life as well as the stubborn pride. On the LP's stately, instantly hummable title track, this member of country super trio Pistol Annies keeps her guns mostly holstered: Though she sings about a string of misfortunes, beginning with her father's death, the song is heartbreaking precisely because its chorus is so resolutely optimistic. That tension comes across stirringly in video of her performance last night, backed by a four-piece band, on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Every rose has its thorn, but damned if there still isn't a sweetness to 'em.
Stay tuned until the end of the clip, for a smiling Monroe being greeted by none other than Halle Berry, who rushes right past Leno to pay a compliment.