"I'm a simple girl in a complex world," sings 19-year-old Ashlee Simpson on "Autobiography," a track from her debut Geffen Records album, but that doesn't begin to sum up this multi-talented performer's accomplishments at her tender age.
With a regular role as Cecilia in WB's hit TV Seventh Heaven , the upcoming Ashlee reality series on MTV and debut album bowing July, Ashlee is about to emerge from, like the name of another new song on the album, this one about her famous family, the "Shadow."
"I've always been obsessed with music," says Ashlee, who adds her tastes-and album-is not at all like older sister Jessica's. "We're into totally different bands and artists."
Produced by John Shanks (Michele Branch, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morrissette, Unwritten Law), the new album has elements of rock, punk and pop, recalling Ashlee's own favorite bands-ranging from Janis Joplin and Steve Nicks to Pat Benatar, the Pretenders and Blondie through Fiona Apple, Hole and Green Day.
Ashlee co-wrote every song on the album. "I just wanted to go in and make a record and not worry about what genre it would be," she says. "I went in to have a good time and did. It's a rock record, with a cool edge to it. It's the first time people are getting to hear what I sound like."
The first single, "Pieces of Me," is a full-throttle rocker about a best friend who brings comfort at the end of a long, stressful day of work. "It's like a sigh," she says. "When I finally see him, all the other dramas fade away."
"Autobiography" plays around with her public image, daring those who want to know her to walk up and ask "baby just ask me." The tongue-in-cheek rave-up "LaLa" is about sexual fantasies, with Ashlee role-playing as an alley cat and a French maid, but it's all in fun. "There's a lot of sarcasm in that song," she says. "It's something every girl thinks about, so I decided to make a joke about it. It's one of the songs you can dance around to."
The Waco, TX-born Ashlee has been dancing since she was three, and by 11, she was the youngest person ever admitted into the prestigious School of American Ballet. She moved to L.A. with her parents and Jessica when she was 14, pursuing an acting career and dancing in her sister's stage show, but dreaming of doing music all the while.
She went on to make appearances on Malcolm in the Middle and The View before landing a regular role in Seventh Heaven. Last year, she had the track "Just Let Me Cry" on Disney's Freaky Friday soundtrack, and then began recording earlier this year on breaks from filming the TV show.
"I've been working on the album for five months now, and I'm just so excited for it to come out," she says. "I feel like it's very true to who I am. I was there every step of the way. My acting experience really helped me get into the characters of the songs and be in the moment with them. I was able to go back to the events I'm singing about and bring them to life."
Coinciding with the release of the new album, Ashlee is also starring in her own MTV reality series, which will track her through the whole process.
"Jessica said she couldn't believe I was doing a show also," she laughs. "Now, when I come over, I bring over my cameras, while there's always a crew around her house. It's actually quite funny. Jess taught me it's cool to be yourself."
With the album done, Ashlee looks back and calls the experience "therapeutic." "Anything I held on my shoulders, I got to put it out there. It enabled me to find out who I am, to discover my identity in the world."
The world is set to learn all about the latest multimedia Simpson star on both disc and TV.
--- from the official Ashlee Simpson website