The sanguine melody of Ashley Monroe's new bluegrass-tinged song 'Like a Rose' runs counter to the sad (at first) story the singer tells. This conflict makes her new recording one you may find on repeat for reasons you can't quite explain. It's beautiful in a tragic way.

Monroe's voice is sweet like Alison Krauss, but touched with original darkness. She sings of death and hopelessness like one may sing of love or taking out the garbage. It's not that sadness doesn't permeate her message, it's that she sounds resigned to her melancholy plight.

"Sittin' in this diner with a coffee in my hand / Or waitin' on a bus to some promise land / I got a one way ticket as far as it goes / And I came out like a rose," Monroe sings during the chorus. Early on, a Johnny Cash-like boom-chic turns the four-minute cut into more of a throwback than country fans have heard from a young artist in recent years.

"Ran off with what's his name / When I turned 18 / It got me out of North Dakota / But it did not change a thing / I left it in the yard / All covered with up with snow / And I came out like a rose," she sings early on.

"So I'm heading south to anywhere / That ain't so damn cold / Where I can warm my heart and shake the chill from my bones," Monroe adds during the second verse. Listen closely for the male backing vocalist during the end of each chorus. It's a small detail that really adds to the composition.

Thus far, Monroe is best known as Hippie Annie in the Pistol Annies. She proved on their debut album that she's got her own stories to tell, however, with the release of 'Like a Rose,' there's little doubt her next album will be a captivating, emotional experience -- especially for fans of traditional country music.

4 Stars

 Listen to Ashley Monroe, 'Like a Rose'

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