Ashley McBryde has built an unconventional career since a teacher back home in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas suggested the singer/songwriter not get her hopes up about a career in music. Criss-crossing the South, playing any gig, room or biker bar she could find, the raven haired young woman built a foundation fan-by-fan, gig-by-gig over a number of years on her way to a deal with Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville.
Today, the artist who was told she’d amount to nothing sees Girl Going Nowhere as the biggest debut by a solo country artist this year. Championed by SiriusXM’s The Highway, McBryde’s “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” found traction; anywhere people heard the voice that’s equal parts real life, unabashed hope and savoring the good parts, they responded, coming to shows, buying music and singing along.
“It feels incredible to have this album out in the world,” says McBryde who collaborated with producer Jay Joyce on the 11-song album. “It may not seem like it, but I’ve always been a shy person, so to hear stories of how other folks relate to these stories, these lyrics and our songs reaffirms this unconventional path we took creating and releasing it.”
McBryde is the latest in a new breed of country music maverick. Rather than wait on country radio, she makes her music, goes out to her fans and connects from the soul and the heart. With her single “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” sitting just outside the Top 30, Girl achieves unprecedented chart position on the strength of her fans seeing themselves in her songs. Whether it’s the second chance of “Little Dive Bar,” the dug-in dreamer of the title track, the hell-bent for love “American Scandal” or the tender “The Jacket,” McBryde’s country is cut from her life – and the lives of many people just like her.
With The New York Times proclaiming, “Varied, warm and effortlessly confident,” Rolling Stone opining, “She has a serious gift” and Variety declaring, “An unabashed, Southern-rooted, honest-to-Gawd great country record,” McBryde has touched a nerve amongst music lovers. As Billboard points out, “Unlike Nashville’s current crop,” McBryde’s earthy tenor as a singer and a writer has been described by The Washington Post as “Vivid,” Uproxx as “Prodigiously talented” and Entertainment Weekly as “…cutting through the cookie-cutter clutter of contemporary pop-country, thanks to her gifts at combining classic storytelling specificity.”
In a world/genre where strong women’s voices are hard to find, McBryde stands out, NPR recognized the potency of her work early. Featuring album cut “Radioland” on All Songs Considered, they wrote, “The cheap comparison would be female Chris Stapleton, but Ashley is her own woman. She really does however, combine the energy of rock, the earnestness and simple beauties of prime-era Springsteen or John Mellencamp; her songs are about family, working people, about living your best life when your best life is maybe on the outskirts of town in a ranch house with a manual lawnmower.”