Ashley McBryde's latest album Girl Going Nowhere has a lot to like. There is some straight up country, some Americana (however the hell you want to define that), some heartland rock (mid 80s style) and some swamp.
The lyrics on the album are chock full of personal stories, imagery, and nostalgia. Lyrics are for each listener to interpret for themself, which is why I rarely go in depth on that front. For me, the lyrics are irrelevant until the music grabs me.
Speaking of the music, Girl Going Nowhere is a collection of 11 very well crafted songs, both instrumentally and lyrically. "Radioland" is a fun. nostalgic, John Mellencamp-type heartland rocker. "Southern Babylon" is dark and swampy and something I'm sure prime Tanya Tucker would have been eager to record. If I did "Song of the Year" type stuff, this song would be the early frontrunner.
There is a cool Tom Petty vibe on "The Jacket", which is another nostalgia song. I don't know, but I hope "Livin' Next To Leroy" is based on a true story, even if not McBryde personally. This song is also the closest McBryde comes to Southern rock. Especially that guitar solo, which I'll get back to later.
"A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega" is simply a great country song. As is "Tired of Being Happy", which has the added bonus of a great play on words. Self-deprecating and clever lyrics.
The songs and songwriting on this album are exquisite. I need to see Ashley McBryde live, because I think all the songs would pop. My thing on this blog is to promote stuff I like, so you won't see very much criticism here, but there is one element on this album that warrants it.
While I appreciate that the vocals are up in the mix (I hate when I can't understand the vocals), the instrumentation is buried on this album. That solo on "Livin' Next To Leroy" should have been brought way up in the mix. And that's not the only one.
I don't know who in the camp was scared, but someone was and it hurts the album as a listening experience. Fortunately, the quality of the songs overcome the poor mixing judgement.
Anyway, here is my favorite song: