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We demonstrate the application of an ultrashort x-ray source as an external probe to measure plasma dynamics. The plasma is generated by a 100-fs Ti: sapphire laser focused onto thin metallic films. Time-resolved spectroscopy of the gold x-ray probe transmission through a perturbed 1000 Å aluminum film reveals redshifts of the L-shell photoabsorption edge. We show that the dynamic behavior of this shift is consistent with the relaxation of the aluminum following the compression generated by a shock wave traveling through the film. An analytic plasma model, with comparison to a numerical hydrodynamics model, indicates compression up to 1.4 times solid density.