Ashley McBryde - Never Will
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Never Will (Warner Nashville, 2020)

Ashley McBryde

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

One of Ashley McBryde's breakthrough hits was the autobiographical "Girl Goin' Nowhere," about people who had cruelly cast doubts upon her music career aspirations. Now, in an act akin to paying it forward, McBryde opens with "Hang In There Girl," which admonishes a woman to keep on fighting the good fight because - eventually - it gets better. These 11 new songs prove McBryde is still going places, fascinating places.

The tattooed McBryde may appear like a rebel, at least when compared to most of the other squeaky-clean Nashville divas. Yet, one of the initial singles, "First Thing I Reach For," is a steel guitar-colored traditional country song that namedrops many of the genre's favorite vices. Its wordplay is beautifully Haggard-esque, too. "Velvet Red," with its mandolin accompaniment and harmony vocals, is nicely bluegrass-y. Then there's "Sparrow," a lovely song about flying - both the physical and the metaphorical variety.

"Martha Divine" is a percussive country rocker addressing a woman that broke up a girl's parent's marriage. Its narrator notes how she knows all about honoring one's father and mother, but then adds, "But the Bible doesn't say a damn thing about your daddy's lover." Ouch!

McBryde had a hand in writing nearly every one of these songs. One cover, though, is "Styrofoam," penned by the late Randall Clay, which is a kind of a subtle drinking song. The recording includes a spoken word intro part where McBryde humorously explains the history of the manufactured substance. However, she's especially thankful for Styrofoam because it's used to make coozies, and coozies - of course - keep her adult beverages cold.

The title track is a clear and direct statement of purpose. With it, this girl who was once told she was going nowhere, is determined to never take her career success for granted. And neither should we.

CDs by Ashley McBryde

EP Never Will: Live From A Distance, 2021 Never Will, 2020

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