LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - MAY 18
ASHLEY MCBRYDE - GIRL GOING NOWHERE
- Artist: Ashley McBryde
- Release Date: 8th June, 2018
- Genre: Country Rock, Country
- Record Label: Warner Bros / Rhino
- Tracks: 11
- Website: http://www.ashleymcbryde.com/
- Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)
"I hear the crowd, I look around, and I can't find one empty chair. Not bad for a girl going nowhere" sings Ashley McBryde on "Girl Goin' Nowhere," the seminal title track from recently released debut album. They're words built from experience over the course of her life, Ashley been finding her own way to fill those seats and sway those hearts since the very first time her teacher told her that her dreams of writing songs in Nashville would never see the light of day. Every time she was brought down, she persevered; trusting her timeless tone and keen, unwavering eye for the truth. It finally paid off. In April last year, Eric Church brought her on stage and called her a "whiskey-drinking badass," confessing that he's a massive fan. The rest of the world is catching on quickly too. With three very well deserved standing ovations at the recent Country 2 Country festival testifiyng to the success of this new fast rising Nashville star.
Dubbed as one of Rolling Stone’s “Artists You Need To Know," citing she's "an Arkansas red-clay badass, with the swagger of Hank Jr. and the songwriting of Miranda Lambert," Ashley McBryde fearlessly lays everything on the line and it's that honest all-in approach that has won Ashley much critical acclaim. Ashley's new album showcases an artistic vision that will prove her to be one of the genre's keenest working storytellers, bringing unwavering honesty back into a pop-preoccupied genre. Pulling tales from every corner of her human experience, Ashley sings with fire, fury and a good healthy dose of self depreciating humour adding to her appeal.
Ashley was raised in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. At three, she'd secretly pluck her father's guitar like an upright bass and after about the 17th time being caught, her father bought her a guitar of her own. When she was twelve, she played her parents and grandparents her very first composition. It was at Arkansas State when while a member of the marching band, Ashley finally started sharing her voice with others, and finally moved to Nashville in 2007 where steadily worked a circuit of dive bars, biker hangouts, and colorful joints fighting to have her songs heard.
Her first EP, the self-released 2016 'Jalopies and Expensive Guitars' was just a taste of what Ashley can do and on her new album, she will meld her songwriting chops with the vision of producer Jay Joyce, peppering her tales with a touch of guitar-driven rock fury. Ashley isn’t afraid to tell the truth, get raw and real and use the spirits of country, folk and rock when it serves her greater purpose. To tell the stories that shake us, make us and tell us a little more about what it's like to be human.
Ashley McBryde paints an very honest picture of the true heart of modern day America........warts and all.
A perfect place to start on the album is the personal, autobiographical and heartfelt title track 'Girl Going Nowhere'. It sets everything into perspective and provides a real frame of reference. A story of a determined fighter, battling through against the odds with courage and self belief. I've included a wonderful live version of the song (below) taken from a concert at the famous Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, just to give you a taste of how really powerful this song is live. It was Ashley's debut performance at the Opry and a final dream come true....and it shows. Super reaction from the audience as well. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
The pace changes for the rocky 'Radioland' with it's catchy back-beat. Ashley mentions John Cougar Mellencamp in the song and he signature sound and style is a major influence on the track. The very passionate 'American Scandal' is a classic love story like JFK and Munroe. A tale of forbidden love and scandal.
The cinematic smokey, smooth and bluesy 'Southern Babylon' is a real classic. You can imagine it being on a movie and TV soundtrack and it will be interesting to see if it is covered later. With touches of The Travelling Willberrys, the retrospective 'The Jacket' is a homage to a piece of clothing that has seen a lot of rich life and holds very deep memories in every thread.
The darker side of American life is discussed next in "Living Next To Leroy" about about Ashley's old meth addict neighbor from Alabama. “On the dark side of the country, it ain’t bonfires, it ain’t beer.” The album's lead single 'A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega' is a perfect and perfect taste of trying to make it as an independent musician. Once again based on true events Ashley has hit rock bottom in this bar and almost quit music altogether. Trying to "make the best of the worse day kinda night......To the flat broke, couch cushion gas money, the worker bee ain’t gettin’ no honey…it’s hittin’ rock bottom, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em”.
The very heartfelt and honest "Andy (I Can't Live Without You)" is a new twist on the familiar story of a girl singing about a guy who she loves in spite of his less then perfect ways. "El Dorado” could quite easily be the sister song to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.” Full of hooks, driving percussion and rock guitar solo's. "Tired Of Being Happy" is Ashley's humble and 'tongue in cheek' reminder to an ex-lover that she’ll be there if their new relationship ends. "I've never wrecked a home, but don't put it past me!' Missing a lover, home and life on the road are the central themes of "Home Sweet Highway". A perfect jumping off point for a wonderful debut album from a fast rising breakthrough star of US Country music.
You get the feeling that after all the long miles, countless dive bars, hard working and fighting to get to this position, that Ashley is going to be around for a long time to come. Both as a performer (solo and with her band) and as a songwriter for others. Watch this space, this 'Girl is Going Nowhere' but in one direction.....up! We rate Ashley very highly and she is one of our LCM 'Ones To Watch' for 2018.