On the cover of his new CD, In Between, musician Ashley Newall stands, casually dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, with heavenly skies above him, and flames lapping at his bare feet.

It’s a striking design, both playful and ethereal in nature. And in that it’s a lot like Newall himself.

The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has a good sense of humour about life as an indie musician, and also a true appreciation for his artistic gifts.

“If I were ever to release a book and invent my own religion that album cover would be the cover of my cult book,” Newall says with a laugh.

But when it comes to explaining how he came up with the quirky yet melodic fusion of folk/reggae/rock tunes on the disc, Newall is a little more serious.

“I don’t really feel like I write songs — I channel them. All creative ideas come from somewhere and I think all artists, and everybody really, taps into that in their own way.”

Newall says he wasn’t always as philosophical about being an artist as he is now. After a rough “starving artist” period several years back, where he felt he was pouring too much of himself into the quest to be a successful musician, Newall took a hiatus from performing and writing. But that time was also his chance to “incubate as a songwriter.”

“Songs can be germinating in your heart and soul and mind even if you aren’t getting them down,” he says.

The first song he wrote after that period was called I’ll Do Ya, a sensual, catchy tune that is also the second track — and his favourite — on the CD.

Post incubation, Newall also reconnected with his band — Brendan Allistone on lead guitar, Adam Fogo on bass, and drummer Jack McGregor. He says even after two years of not playing together, they instantly meshed and knew it was time to record some songs.

They are already busy working on the next full-length CD, which Newall says may be a bit less “perfectionist” and might contain more live off the floor tracks than he’s previously recorded.

And Newall is also balancing the re-invention of his own band with the frequent supporting roles he plays in the bands of local singers Shannon Rose and Lisa Poushinsky.

He says he loves both roles — being the front man or rocking more quietly on the side. But at centre stage he can really be himself.

“I do find it quite hard to contain myself sometimes, so with my band I just let go and have a lot of fun.”

– After covering hard news for a few years, Kim discovered her real passion – writing about the wonderful world of music, theatre, visual arts and literature.