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McBryde sticks with what she knows

Orpheum Theatre, Boston, December 9, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Ashley McBryde certainly believes a lot in her latest album, "The Devil I Know." The disc is a winner, and McBryde underscored that because she played all 11 songs. It's downright refreshing to see an artist who believes that much in her work. Most artists will play a handful of songs to the faithful, relying on past hits for the most part.

McBryde got the night rolling by rocking on "Blackout Betty," which was one of the least country songs she would play over the course of the 90-minute show.

With songs that would immediately follow like her hit "One Night Standards," "Brenda Put Your Bra On," (unfortunately, the only song she would offer from the very fine "Lindeville" concept disc. She didn't even play "Bonfire at Tina's.") and especially "Whiskey and Country Music," McBryde established her country bona fides. Whiskey would also figure later in the show (hey, this was a country show) with "Women Ain't Whiskey."

McBryde's singing wreaks with authenticity, perhaps no more so than "Girl Goin' Nowhere," based on her own experience of being told no. It's a heartfelt song about making it, and with the vulnerability of her delivery, McBryde made it sound real.

The song also was uplifting in the same way that the crowd-assisted "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega" was. McBryde said she penned the song in part with Nicolette Hayford and Jesse Rice, was written on a very bad day for all three.

To her credit, McBryde said she used the same band in the studio as joining her on stage. That's not a given. The band served McBryde well in a tight show.

McBryde didn't come off as a particularly organic performer. One got the sense that the lengthy patter about the band moving up the ladder was what she said every night and not all that exciting. We get it – she paid her dues like countless others before her and those to come. And a few mentions along the same lines was a few too many.

McBryde need not convince herself of her abilities - something she sang about in the title track of "The Devil I Know" – "Everybody's got somethin' to say/About how I gotta change my ways/But I got somethin' to say of my own/Hell, there's hell everywhere I go/I'm just stickin' with the devil I know." With shows like this, it's clear that as long as McBryde heeds her own advice, she'll be just fine.

McBryde pretty much was dead on in assessing the opener Kasey Tyndall. In giving Tyndall a shout out during her set, McBryde said few probably knew of Tyndall before they walked into the theatre, and then she had the crowd eating out of her hand. That was about right as Tyndall drew more and more of a response as her stint wore on with some giving her a standing ovation at the end.

Tyndall has the supple voice to carry any of her songs, she has some good ones. She's done some writing with Lainey Wilson, which in and of itself gives Tyndall cred.

Tyndall went the easy route early on, however, by covering Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" as the second song. Not very country sounding. She did make up for hit with (unfortunately only) a snippet of Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" before playing a large portion of ZZ TOP's "Tush" for some reason. Her own songs and voice stood out though and playing by her lonesome on acoustic worked to her benefit. There was no clutter of a band or the band taking over.

Tyndall also adopted a bad girl affect in talking about her life. That seemed more like pandering than reality. The Bad Girl may have been then. She doesn't seem so bad these days though – especially given her musical abilities.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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