After taking an unexpected detour into pseudo-Italian soundtrack music with 2001's Dead Lover's Benevolent Return, Ashley returned to his more expected alternative confessional singer-songwriting style with 2003's The Darker Corners of Your Heart. Like his first two albums, it's wistful, low-key, and melodic, Ashley's vocals creating a lights-low mood. At times there are touches of loungeish pop, flamenco, and bossa nova, in the better sense of those styles. For all of its pleasing surface attributes -- particularly the weepy guitar glides -- the mellow vibe coats rather troubled meditations on romance and stability. There are references to drunkenness, the struggle to change for the better, loneliness, and the redemptive power of love and sex, albeit sometimes mouthed with the perspective of someone who doesn't believe he's fully deserving of its rewards. They aren't unique themes by any means, but Ashley does them well, and gets outside of the strictly personal world with his observations of outlaw life in "Billy, Bonnie, & Butch."
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger