Single Review: Ashlee Simpson “Shadow”

Album: Autobiography
Year: 2004

Both Simpson women have said they no longer want to do their reality shows. However, each time Joe Simpson has responded that they will be back to the magazine currently reporting their quote. Now, if he were thinking as a father and not as a money-grubbing manager looking to cash in, he would perhaps listen to his daughters. He would think, “You know what? My daughters aren’t really happy doing this after all. Soon, they will grow to resent me for selling them out to the cameras and tearing away at what little privacy they may want for themselves.” But then again, this is Joe Simpson, the father/manager who makes comments about daughter Jessica’s breasts.

Meanwhile, Ashlee Simpson is capitalizing on being outsider in her own family with her new single, “Shadow.” In the first verse, she sings how her parents left her to work on Jessica’s career (“I was six years old/when parents ran away..She was beautiful/she had everything and more/and my escape was hiding out and running for the door”). In the chorus, she talks about being in Jessica’s shadow and feeling unloved because of it (“Living in the shadow/of someone’ else’s dream/trying to find a hand to hold/but every touch felt cold to me”). However, she also sings that she doesn’t want any sympathy, either.

In the second verse, she sings that she was “second best” and that she has come to terms with not being born the right sister: “that it’s safe outside to come alive in my identity.” In the bridge, she tells her family that everything is ok now. It’s telling that in the song that she mention her mother and sister four times and her father twice in the bridge, (“mother, sister, father, sister, mother/everything’s cool now”). Whether she meant it or not, by mentioning her mother and sister repeatedly she is hinting at tension she may have felt not having the close relationship with them she wanted. While in songs like this for pop stars are usually self-pitying, Ashlee’s carries some weight and credibility. People have seen how Jessica is fawned upon on “Newlyweds” and that her career was the most important, at the expense of everybody else’s.

Perhaps due to the subject matter, Ashlee is able to be use her raspy voice to her advantage and convey the emotion needed. In the song, she is somber, determined, calm and forgiving. The producers keep the piercing crack in her voice when she sings “living in the of shadow of someone else’s dream” and it was a wise decision. It’s natural and lets Ashlee convey the isolation she may have felt as a kid.

Ashlee has potential to become bigger than Jessica is now — even without the reality show to maintain her fame.


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