Ashley McBryde shows off the product of her dogged determination in her instant American classic “Girl Going Nowhere”
Somewhere in alternate universe, Tom finally catches Jerry, and Wile E. Coyote flips the script on the Roadrunner and escapes the headache-inducing anvil to the noggin he’s been catching for eternity.
In our country music reality, Ashley McBryde has accomplished a similar feat by spending a decade in Nashville busking for recognition and finally breaking through the Music Row brick wall with a force greater than the Kool-Aid Man could ever dream of on his best day.
Normally, first listens of albums destined for review find me entering a password, dropping my 10 bucks and then skipping through tracks to get a feel for what I think the artist is trying to convey, 30 seconds of track at a time.
With “Girl Going Nowhere,”however, every time I tried to hit the next button on my phone, something inside of me said, “Hold on, you should probably just let this one play.”
And so I did. 11 tracks later, the “Girl Going Nowhere” made me late for work, but an early supporter of the album that seems as cathartic for the fans as it was for the Arkansas native forging her way into the scene long after the sand in her hourglass should’ve settled on the bottom of the dusty timepiece.
To set the tone as subtly strong as Ashley does on the first track is akin to a butterfly exploding out of a cocoon with the force of a firecracker lit with a blowtorch. Like being in the presence of a ghost you swore couldn’t exist, it now shines brighter than a diamond you knew you should’ve bought years ago with that Christmas bonus instead of a 6 burner propane grill with a complimentary “kiss the cook” apron. “Girl Going Nowhere” reminds the naysayers that she’s now the Girl Going Somewhere.
After you let go of your, “Damn, I feel bad for all those who doubted her,” feeling, Ashley treats you to a driving, upbeat, rock-a-billy jam of Radioland to get you off your ass, and back into a, “Yeah, keep it open” tab mood until someone tries to maneuver an Uber into your night.
Wearing your heart on your sleeve can often brand you a little weaker than you’d like to be perceived, but in Ashley’s case, the tattoos painting the landscape on her arm tell as much a story as the respect and heartfelt appreciation she feels for those who draw inspiration from her songs.
“If I can even help one person turn/their day around, then all those/couch-surfing, playing for the/tips nights were worth it.”
Can we talk about Andy for a minute? Moreover, can we talk about how I swear Ashley talked to my wife and got the inspiration for this song. I saw myself and so many other male roommates committing the exact same no-no’s as I gradually turned the volume up, waiting to hear my name in this song about Ashley’s guitarist and roommate who seems hellbent on breaking every unwritten rule that the women of the house have jotted down in a little black book no man has ever laid eyes on.
Nods to her father in “The Jacket”, the comforts of home in “Home Sweet Highway”, and the trappings of addiction in “Livin’ Next To Leroy” keep the listener reminiscing, thinking and rocking out all at once.
What if? What if you never found yourself in “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega”, or “Tired of Being Happy”? Well…you’d be in ownership of a life you planned, but not a life you found fulfilling.
The parallels found with Ashley’s not-so-meteoric rise to radio fame can be coupled with most of our day-to-day struggles. Put in the work and grind until the work bears fruit, but stay as a the day is long.
Sit back and let yourself be immersed into an instant American classic, born from years of unending toil.