1. Track List (18)
‘Girl Going Nowhere’ Arrives At Its Classic Destination Thanks To Familiar Yet Fresh Songwriting
A newer Country fan like myself searches for the classic sounds more often than the contemporary ones, and if there is ever a new artist adhering to the old ways, I’m all the way there for him or – in this case, her; Ashley McBryde is not new on the scene per se, but clocked quite a few years on the road, developing her style while penning albums 2011 Elsebound, which featured the great track “Break It Fast”, and her 2016 album Jalopies & Expensive Guitars, which by the title alone already suggested a dedication to music over luxury. It included fantastic tracks such as “Redemption” and “Bible and A .44.” This latest gem of a record, Girl Going Nowhere, is a deceiving title for a woman I think is clearly going places -and far, thanks to her traditional musical prowess. The genre, as I have come to know it, is well respected by McBryde, from a vocal, instrumental, and songwriting standpoint. It doesn’t get more old school than this, yet within this flashback to the past, very subtle elements ground her work in the modern day, be it a contemporary chord which updates familiar ones, the hard rocking overhaul on many a track, or the patient administration of just the right amount of modern backbeat. Plus, you can just tell there’s a story behind all of these tracks, as her biography cites that she has been on the road for a long time, dive bar to dive bar, probably seeing a thing or two. Just looking at all her tattoos, I have a feeling these dives were of the ‘Biker’ variety. As well, there are great detours, like “Southern Babylon”, which contains a sexy jazz lounge shuffle that would totally work in a steamy, 50 Shades style movie, and “Livin’ Next to Leroy”, which can compete with the alternative nature of many songs by one of my favorite Country re-imaginers, Sheryl Crow.
No One Trick Pony Here: Wise Lyrics Soar To The Tune Of A Variety Of Country Rock Styles
Speaking of a variety of styles, there are the expected renderings of very solid Country Rock, represented well by the kickin’ “Radioland”, the anthemic power chords of “American Scandal”, which are beautifully reminiscent of “Teenage Wasteland” by The Who, the mid-tempo and twangy Soft Rock of “The Jacket”, and the Southern Rock Soul balladry of “Tired of Being Happy” – which I could totally here my favorite Country Blues artist Bonnie Raitt singing proudly to. These are not easy acts to follow, yet through awesome guitar work, great singing, and nuanced lyricism, Ashley McBryde keeps up with them all. On “Tired of Being Happy”, she plays with perceptions, singing “and if you ever get tired of bein' happy / you know I won't be... hard to find at all.” I love that she leaves the option of another shot of romance on the table, even though she claims to be happy about her ex and his new boo-thang. She’s seen the pictures and can tell that he is in love – yet she can’t hide how attractive this brand new version of him is. She offers that when he is sick of such perfection, he is free to sink it all on round two with her – and whether I’m reading to much into this or not, I find the self depreciating lyrics smart and perfect. Revealing how she has defied expectations in her life, Ashley McBryde writes cleverly from the perspective of a naysayer on the acoustic “Girl Goin’ Nowhere”, as a mentor figure tells her to give up on her silly dreams; “don't waste your life behind that guitar / you may get gone, but you won't get far / you're not the first, you won't be the last / and you can tell us all about it when you come crawling back.” I am so happy she didn’t heed the warnings.
Ashley McBryde Sings With A Voice That Is True Country And Truly Dynamic
I am mesmerized with the unbelievable quality of Ashley McBride’s voice. She can give me chills on some of the quiet songs, and likewise, roars with authority and attitude on many of the Rock tracks – yet still, can go for a jazzy sultriness on “Southern Babylon” whilst not betraying too much her Arkansas accent – singing the coolest lines; “I had to pull myself together and ask to use the phone / the waitress smiled a wicked grin that sent a chill right to my bone / I said I need to call the tow truck, some way to move along / she said "who you wanna call, now that you've been called home?"” On “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega”, a great organ and slide guitar piece lays down the foundation for McBryde’s vivid and assured vocals, which perfectly capture the quintessential Country delivery for me, never straying into faux twang, yet rather sounding as authentic as a southern girl can sound. McBryde delivers this time extremely popular and generalized phrases, such as “here's to the break ups that didn't break us / the break down, wrong turn that takes ya / to a little dive bar in Dahlonega / hear a song from a band that saves ya, man”, yet where I find that most Country Pop artists would apply a ridiculous amount of swallowed drawl for some clichéd effect, her’s is perfectly measured, while including colorful moments of vibrato straight out of the Whitney Houston trick bag. Where is the little dive bar in Dahlonega, because I’d sure love to visit, get me a drink, find a dance partner, and have a good ol’ time.
Real Words And Real Arrangements Revive The Genre On ‘Girl Going Nowhere’
I don’t know where Ashley McBryde is going to go next, but wherever it is, I want to go too. Her confident songwriting and arrangements is evident on every single song, and even as “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” came closest to the formulas that I have heard in modern Country, it is still a fantastic song, and it’s popularity as a single is little wonder. Not only is this extremely talented musician reviving classic Country, but she is reviving the intersection of Country and Rock and Roll – offering a variety of staple Hard Rock sound, rather than just reproducing the tropes of Country Rock or Southern Rock. I can’t stand such music when it is too on the nose, doing the same riffs, the same boot stomping beats, and the same corny exaggerations. Nothing is exaggerated on the album Girl Goin’ Nowhere – on the contrary, these tracks simply do not misstep anywhere that I could even remotely notice. Each track was a surprise, and none more-so than what I felt was one of the best tracks on the record – “El Dorado”, a Hard Rock, almost eighties styled dance rock beat that propels me not only rhythmically but spiritually – urging me to pursue my golden goals with the soaring lyrics “mornin' side of midnight, 'nother state line comin' up it's down to the truckers, the troopers, and troubadours like us I'm out of coffee.” This is a slamming highway song which contains haunted chords on the hook, a quality which I search for the most when it comes to music. While I’m not the type of brother to go all out with Country, this album a whole has a ton of quality and meaning for me, as I listen to it again and again. What’s in store for 2019 is a tour – one I surely might link up with, as I may be the newest member of the Ashley McBryde Trybe.
Take A Ride To The Olden Times With Ashley McBryde, The Girl Going Nowhere
Most of the acts dropping Country albums in 2018 & 2019 have been around for ages, reverting back to a more classic sound as a means of combatting the Country Pop scourge that hit the industry in the last decade, but every once in a while a gem comes along that shines so incredibly bright on its own you’d be hard-pressed to believe it was create within the last couple of years; Fortunately for her, Ashley McBryde is that diamond in the rough, hitting the Country music scene like a ton of bricks with her latest album – & technically first album – Girl Going Nowhere, literally going from background performer with a small niche following on YouTube to certified Country powerhouse in just one short year – While she’s been playing in bar bands & touring acts for over a decade, much of her career was spent as a secondary player to many larger acts, so when Eric Church decided to invite her on-stage for a song a couple of years back, he pulled back the wool from our eyes & revealed a magnificent talent who’d just been waiting for the recognition she so deserves; Girl Going Nowhere is simply an expression of these talents with the proper sonic fidelity, bringing out the captivating charms of your new favourite performer.
The Story Comes First, Naturally
What is it that makes Ashley McBryde so much more interesting than your average mainstream act these days? Artists like Maren Morris did a wonderful job of bringing old-school narratives into modern Dance Pop sensibilities & others like Kelsea Ballerini were easily covering the undervalued Teen Pop side of the Country industry, so how did she manage to catch legendary performers like Church’s ear? Well, right from the get-go, McBryde gives audiences something they’ve been missing desperately for nearly twenty years now – A compelling story. Even the most cursory glance at tunes like “Radioland” is able to display how incredible the amount of detail is in each of these songs, using clever wordplay & vibrant instrumentation to capture the drive & imagination of adolescent wanderlust, instantly taking you back to the days of your youth where the only things that mattered was if you had fallen in love yet & whether you were going to run off into the sunset with nothing but the shirts on your backs, engaging in some sort of romantic power fantasy clearly inspired by the likes of Bruce Springsteen; Hell it even references the iconic radio couple ‘Jack & Diane’ within its lyrics, whilst other songs like “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” deliver the whiny saloon sound & dreamy instrumentations one expects in a more classic Country crooner, verging on retro love song material with its heavy-hearted lyrics & brilliant acoustic chords – With so much narrative splendor to behold, what’s there to possibly dislike about Girl Going Nowhere?
The Return Of The Female Drifter
While the male end of the Country music spectrum has seen a major uptick in representation lately, what with Chris Stapleton, Midland & similar groups charging forward in that whole Outlaw- & Red-Dirt Country fashion, the more feminine side of the equation has barely seen as much activity as hoped, the iconic attitudes of classic idols like Dolly Parton & Reba McEntire virtually absent from the voices of more modern acts – This is where Ashley McBryde really shines, taking things back further than Country Pop shenanigans, even further than traditional Country sounds from the early noughties & even further than the Pop/Soft Rock aesthetics of the late-nineties, hitting the iconic Americana & Folk sounds of the late-eighties Country-adjacent scenes; She gives modern audiences a taste of what the real dust-town, married-to-an-absent-spouse, middle-of-nowhere drifter mentality feels like in sonic form, hitting you with songs like “American Scandal” that could easily be an analogue for Tom Petty’s music from back in the day, creating the same nostalgic, hometown sound on a grand scale as she sings about simple living & unrestrained love in that super romantic ‘I don’t care who sees us” sort of way – Is it narratively reckless, a bit overdramatic & even corny at times? Yes, but that’s only because she’s spoon-feeding us a musical style we once heard blasting from the radio for years, so the familiarity rips a bit of the emotional impact from the overall story, but if you were to stand there & say this music doesn’t remind you of “Learning To Fly” or “I Won’t Back Down” you’d be a bold-faced liar.
A Worryingly Spectacular Music Experience
There’re so many aspects of Girl Going Nowhere that bring a smile to my & many other Country-listener’s faces, from the real vintage sound of each driving guitar compositions to the epic size of the soundscapes within, but there’s a very real concern that Ashley McBryde might actually be too good to make that much of an impact on modern audiences – From one point of view, she’s a brilliant performer who’s leagues ahead of her nearest competition, unafraid to belt out magnificently hard-hitting high notes & comfortable with talking about much more morose subject matter in her lyrics, though at the same time she’s going so hard against the grain in terms of her integration into modern music trends that she might actually alienate any potential listeners who might’ve come her way, taking a break from their Bebe Rexha-fronted Florida Georgia Line Pop songs to hear something with real musicality in it; She’s far too well-rounded of a performer to capture the aloof minds of younger audiences, but that said she’d make a wonderful candidate for CMA & AMA awards consideration given the panel’s typically retro-leaning interests, so I wouldn’t necessarily count her completely out of the running for fame’s sake, rather it’s simply difficult to ascertain how many more albums we’ll get out of her in the future given her potential reach – Only time will tell, but I’m not expecting anything huge to happen for McBryde other than her likely getting a few more tattoos & settling in to a very Sam Smith level of status going forward, turning into one of those artists you always see for sale at the store but never remember to download once you get home.
3. Official (3)
4. Audio (18)
5. Live (2)
6. Featuring Remixes
7. Albums (2)