Rocking Magpie Music Hour Ep:5

Rocking Magpie Music Hour
Episode 5
January 29th 2021

While not quite up to the heady heights we expect for our reviews; we appear to be collecting new listeners every week with these Podcasts; which hopefully reflect what we do in print.
Yet again there’s an exciting mix of music IMHO mixing brand new singles with album tracks and a couple of Classic Oldies thrown in for good measure.

1Jerry Castle#5 PODCASTThrowback Texas Man
2Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters#5 PODCASTSwashbucklin’
3Amy Speace#5 PODCASTThere Used to be Horses
4John Paul Keith#5 PODCASTLove Love Love
5The Byrdsfor Gram Parsons#5 PODCASTHickory Wind
6Matt Hill#5 PODCASTChasing at my tears
7Matt HillQuiet LonerGateway#5 PODCASTintro
8Matt HillGateway#5 PODCAST?
9Matt HillGateway#5 PODCAST?
10Jack Cade#5 PODCASTSome bruises never fade
11Cathy Grier#5 PODCASTEasy Come Easy Go
12Jerry Leger#5 PODCASTJumped in the Humber
13Prelude#5 PODCASTOn hearing Dylan
14Ian M BaileyDaniel Wylie/LostDoves#5 PODCASTSlow Down River
15Dean Owens#5 PODCASTNew Mexico

Rachel Brooke THE LONELINESS IN ME

Rachel Brooke
The Loneliness in Me
Mal Records

Joe Meek meets David Lynch at the Bang Bang Bar on Dolly Parton night.

It’s been said before about Rachel Brooke, that her music is a cocktail of old and new and that mixture is shaken AND stirred, to exciting effect on “The Loneliness in Me”.
Melodically and structurally, Ms Brooke’s songs mine glorious countrypolitan melancholy – in terms of their setting and production things get nicely weird.
Opener “It Ain’t Over ‘Till You’re Crying,” is a wry kiss-off song swathed in Twang and pedal steel that sounds like it’s sprung forth from a Barbarella B-Movie.
“Great Mistake” which follows, ups the tremulous guitar Twang further still against a mid-paced in and out double-shuffle and a gorgeously honeyed vocal performance.
“The Hard Way” is pure Lynchian sonic goodness with epic soaring harmonies. Brooke’s voice is not a conventional Country instrument – her delicious alto reaching into deeper and more mysterious regions than you’d ever hear on mainstream country radio.
Title track “The Loneliness In Me” rattles along with warmly distorted ‘chicken picking’, giving the song real body and fire punctuated by frantic fiddle and a Folsom Prison style drop out section – definitely my kind of music!
“Picture on My Wall” is a Patsy Cline tempo set against an intergalactic *Joe Meek type production, followed by “It Won’t Be Long” which starts as a more conventional country two-stepper; but then launches into some spectacularly brazen guitar licks from another planet altogether.
“Ghost Of You” would fit perfectly into an episode of “Twin Peaks;” with its dominant snare, ethereal pedal steel and detached reverb-soaked vocal – not forgetting the Lynchian lyrical voyage into dreams and mystery.
“The Lovells Stockade Blues” is part walking blues, but rhythmically it shoots far, far away from the ploddiness of many in that format; largely by dynamic and clever drumming which shift rhythm and emphasis as the song requires it.
“Lucky and Alone” is a move back into 50’s Kitty Wells type melody, but with the instrumental elements becoming an almost Phil Spector-like Country ‘wall of sound’.
Countrypolitan strings lead the listener in on “The Awful Parts of Me” and swirl throughout a tale of strange love before climactically ending with Beach Boy “Woo woo woos” to the singalong chorus.
Penultimate track “Undecided Love” is a laid back classic ballad that sounds like it could have been recorded in a backwoods studio by an oddball genius in 1962; just before the Beatles arrived – it’s truly that wonderful. Things come to an end with “I Miss It Like It’s Gone” which starts with a single strummed guitar before expanding with soaring vocal tones and syncopated snare, leaving the listener in a big puddle of decaying reverb and delay, ending an album that is spectacular in ambition and scope – fans of Joe Meek, Joana Serrat, David Lynch and Richard Hawley will adore this album – the rest of y’all need to catch up.

*Joe Meek; for our American cousins was the ‘British Phil Spector’ back in the 1960’s ……. famed for his own ‘distinctive production style.’

Review by Nick Barber
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
RELEASED October 23rd 2020
https://www.rachelbrookemusic.com/store

Dave Rosewood NO RODEO IN ROME

Dave Rosewood
No Rodeo In Rome
Aula Studio

A Really Authentic Cowboy Country Concept Album

We don’t receive near enough ‘Classic’ Country here; perhaps it’s because not enough is recorded these days ….. which is scary if you think about it.
Now; I say ‘Classic Country’ but even that name gets a bit dismembered these days, doesn’t it?
What I know as ‘Classic’ is another man’s ‘Insurgent’ or probably even ‘Countrypolitain’ or whatever; but it sure as Hell ain’t what you see on the CMA’s that’s for sure!
Dave Rosewood; once a native of the Ozark’s and now firmly ensconced in Sweden ticks all of those boxes; which is why this release excited me when I first heard it was on its way to me.
Opening track Long Distance Love starts with a cursory, “1, 2, 3 …4” before the Twangfest kicks in; with Dave telling his twist of the Country staple; someone having to earn their wages many miles from home and keeping in touch via the telephone; but in this case there may be a twist as to which character is the one ‘keeping house’ while the other is away; and it swings like pendulum in a storm.
I don’t feel that this is a ‘Country Rock Opera’ as such; but to some intents and purposes it is something of a concept album; as Rosewood’s songs are the type of fantasy that we all love from this type of music and drift easily from one to the next.
He may or may not have actually lived the life of the main character in the dark and melancholic Sarah (The Cowboy Song) or even Drinkin’ Man; but he manages to make the ‘character’ intensely believable and will have many listeners thinking that these songs are about them or at least someone they now.
The way he tells his stories conjure up ‘mini movies’ in the head with little effort; even the very neat and clever title track, No Rodeo in Rome; which should obviously be filmed in monochrome (I think); and the laid back Two Steps where the natural warble in Dave’s weary voice sounds like it could crack at any moment.
While not actually taking the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song; as it’s not actually a song, Sunset is stunning in many ways. Is it a short story? A Cowboy poem set to music? I’m not sure and damn sure don’t care; but I love it and the world needs more like this.
No Rodeo i Rome is a short album; coming in at only 8 tracks long; but that still leaves me in a dilemma as to selecting between the windswept and 100% authentic Cowboy Moon and the wonderful almost breathless instrumental, Canyons which sounds like the soundtrack to a Sam Peckinpah follow up to The Wild Bunch; but I’m probably tempted to go for the former as it really is the benchmark for a rather intriguing and tragically beautiful set of Country Songs; the likes of which you don’t hear enough of in the 21st Century.

Released October 5th 2020
https://daverosewood.com/

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY



Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid IF YOU DON’T MIND

Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid
IF YOU DON’T MIND
Self-Release

100 x More Country or Americana Than 99% of Albums That Claim To Be.

Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid hail from the River Clyde Delta in the foothills of Olde Scotia and make some of the finest darn Country Music that your ears are ever likely to hear.
What more do you need to know?
I have spoken.
Oh! That’s not enough for you is it?
Well, this is the pairs umpteenth album together in what has been a very fluid career, combining big ole City Centre gigs with their band The Flying Mules and village halls across the UK in whatever other format was necessary.
No two gigs or albums are ever the same; but you always know that Daniel Meade’s exquisite singing voice and heartfelt songs will make you despair that you aren’t actually watching a world famous Star of the Opry; because that’s what he sounds like to me.
On to their latest release; and one that has been a long time in the making and one of the best things to come out of music’s Annus Horriblus; ‘Lockdown 2020’, which forced the duo to use modern technology in the most old fashioned manner to create a fairly simple production that makes these songs all come alive in a way that you can’t find in many studios.

There’s a melancholic late night Honky Tonk feeling to opening track If You Don’t Mind that makes you think back to the glorious days of Hank and George on the wireless. The harmonies are absolutely spot on and the story in Meade’s song hangs in the air long after it’s finished.
To the untutored ear this album would probably be classed as Old Time Country; but that is doing Meade’s songwriting a huge disservice; as his subject matter is invariably more contemporary than just about anything coming out of Nashville this century.
This certainly applies to It’s Hard To Be a Man These Days and the mad minute that is Give This World a Shake; although their arrangements and Lloyd Reid’s astonishing guitar runs are certainly Old School or more pertinently Classic Country in my book.
For only two people, Meade and Reid create a ‘big sound’; but we already know what a multi-talented musician Dan Meade is; and that comes to the fore with his Dooley Wilson style piano playing on the winsome heartbreaker Good Heart Gone Astray and a few songs earlier the rather jaunty and black humour of Mother of Mercy.
Everyone who buys this album is going to have a different Favourite Song, that’s for sure; as each will touch different people in different ways; again this is my way of saying that Daniel Meade is a very clever songwriter.
At present I’m torn between the Western Swing of Why You Been Gone So Long?
The dark and almost Gothic Sleeping on the Streets of Nashville, which will resonate with far too many musicians who travel to Music City with so much hope in their hearts, and almost always ends in tears.
The other; and what I’m actually selecting as my actual Favourite Song on a rather special album is ………. cue drum roll……… Choking on the Ashes (That I’ve Burned); a bonafide Country tearjerker with Everly Brothers style harmonies and while that’s the Twang we associate with Chet Atkins; I’m also hearing (not for the first time or last here) more than a smidgen of Jazz Master Barney Kessell in Lloyd’s mellifluous guitar runs.
If you are a fan of Country Music, or even Americana you are going to absolutely love this album; but the sad part is that because Daniel Meade and Lloyd Reid don’t play the ‘corporate game’ IF YOU DON’T MIND isn’t likely to feature in any Awards ceremonies at the end of the year; yet it is 100 x more Country or Americana than 99% of the albums that will.

Go on; treat yourself.

Released September 18th 2020
BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://danielmeade.bandcamp.com/album/if-you-dont-mind

https://apple.co/2Yk3r9W


Charley Crockett WELCOME TO HARD TIMES.

CHARLEY CROCKETT
Welcome to Hard Times
Thirty Tigers

A Bit of Country, a Lot of Western And Plenty of Heartfelt Honesty.

Just 36 years of age, Texas born Charley Crockett has had a very tough life, learning from family heartache and poor, albeit a series of unlucky personal decisions that most people would struggle to cope with.
He has also recovered from serious health issues in recent years, leaving a prominent scar on his chest as a vivid reminder, acting as inspiration to not let hard luck get him down.
Nevertheless, his music has enabled him to stay ahead of the game and Welcome to Hard Times is his 8th. album in only 6 years.
Generally, I tend to levitate toward artists who are difficult to place into accepted taxonomies, those that glide from one genre to the next with consummate ease. Well, Mr Crockett certainly does that, and some. However, if you want further clarity, then producer Mark Neil proclaimed that “it was a pleasure to be involved in what I believe to be the best Gulf and Western record ever made.”
The albums title track kicks things off with a mid-tempo tinkling piano backing with lyrics that include the profound warning that
the dice are loaded, and everything is fixed
even a hobo will tell you this”.
“Run Horse Run” follows, painting fleeing pictures with equine references, and bringing back some personal childhood memories of “Ghost Riders in the Sky”.
“Tennessee Special” ups the tempo into an almost Western Swing vibe, with a gentle, wailing steel guitar reinforcing the songs’ railroad journey. We then have a banjo intro into “Lily My Dear” that has a chorus asking his nearest and dearest
Lily my Darling, Lily my Dear,
for what awful reason have you come down here,
Is it for money, is it for pride, just for the joy of watching me die”.
Further songs about being down on your luck follow with the likes of “Heads you Win”, “Raining in my Heart” and “Black Jack County Chain” but the dark, self pitied subjects are delivered with plenty of varied instrumentation and different tempos that undoubtedly keep you interested.
It was a toss up choosing my favourite track with “The Poplar Tree,” just missing out to “The Man That Time Forgot”.
Both fell into the predominant noir and Gothic Western theme that runs throughout all the 13 tracks, but when Charley asks
Would you like to know the secret of my misery,
sitting in the pages of my history.
It’s a living hell, this painted veil, of illusions that I can’t stop,
I’m the man that time forgot.
then it’s so easy to visualise and then feel the sadness and misery behind all of these very well crafted songs.
Weirdly, each time I listened to the album it took me back to my childhood, watching black & white TV series like Rawhide, Gunsmoke & Bonanza, that were my Dad’s absolute favourites too. I could see the cattle, smell the leather, and could even taste the prairie dust, plus, there was always Frankie Lane singing too.
In those days the music would have been categorised as Country & Western, well this splendid album from Charley Crockett has very little Country in it, as it is virtually all Western, with and without the Swing; albeit sensitive and moody but paradoxically somehow always enjoyable.

http://www.charleycrockett.com/
Released July 31st 2020

Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Bill Kirchen THE PROPER YEARS

BILL KIRCHEN
The Proper Years
The Last Music Co.

Smile Inducing, Ageless Rockabilly via a Dollop of Boogie-Woogie and Honky Tonk.

This release is a very welcome retrospective “best of” covering all four albums the ‘Titan of the Telecaster’ Mr Bill Kirchen has recorded for UK based Proper Records.

Kirchen originally rose to fame in 1969 when he relocated from Michigan to San Francisco, with his band Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen, where they quickly established themselves as an alternative to the hippy/flower power/rock bands of that era.
Bill split from the band in the mid-1970’s and remained in music, mostly in the DC area, establishing himself with other Telecaster contemporaries and increasing his twanging reputation. His signature sound is often referred to as “dieselbilly” allowing him to effortlessly fuse country, blues, rock-a-billy, western swing, honky-tonk and boogie-woogie, without the blinking of an eye. If ever anyone blurred the lines of accepted musical genres, then here is your man.

So, in 2006 he recorded his 7th. solo album and his first for Proper Records entitled “Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods”.
Since then 3 more have followed and the 37 tracks here, spread over 2 CD’s, provide a superb reconsideration for anyone who is a fan but for whatever reason missed out on this quartet of work. Fact is, even if you’re not a fan, but are intrigued, then this is a wonderful way to get to know the unique and compelling Titan of the Telecaster by adding him to your music collection.

When Paul Riley went to work with Malcolm Mills at Proper Records, over 20 years ago,  he told me that their mantra would be “All Killers, No Fillers” and ladies & gentlemen that is exactly what you get with this double album. The tone is therefore set, right from the very first number, being the title track from his first Proper album and regales the history of Leo Fenders luthieral creation. “Get a Little Goner” is a slice of humour, playing on words that may not be in any dictionary, but that just makes the enjoyment all the betterer, if you know what I mean.
There are several covers, including an extremely interesting rendition of “Devil with a Blue Dress On”, which is out of the Motown catalogue plus a couple of Dylan’s best with “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and also “The Times They Are A-Changin”, the latter featuring his long time friend Austin de Lone.

Here, Merle Haggards “Shelly’s Winter Love” takes on an Everly Brothers type sound with the help of Paul Carrack and Nick Lowe adding the Don & Phil harmonies to perfection.
I particularly liked “I Don’t Work That Cheap”, which has the old Commander himself – George Frayne, engaging in some classic boogie-woogie piano whilst Maria Muldaurs’ bawdy vocals illuminate “Ain’t got time for the Blues”.
Talking about Chicken” almost stole the show for me but, my favourite track has got be the revised hit from almost 50 years ago, the elongated, enigmatic “Hot Rod Lincoln” which has additional sounding snippets of so many musical legends that had me grinning for hours afterwards.
(#EDITOR’S NOTE – Bill doesn’t mention them ……… but Rockabilly Funeral and Down to Seeds and Stems are totally unmissable ….. just saying.)

Bill Kirchen certainly presents his music with a smile on his face, often relaying lyrics with humour and wit, not necessarily PC correct in today’s woke culture but, nonetheless many of these songs had me chuckling.
Prior to setting pen to paper I asked my FB friend James Oliver (recipient of the 2020 Blues in Britain – Emerging Artist Award) just where Bill Kirchen sits in his all-time personal heroes of the Telecaster list; and without any hesitation James stated he is up there at #1.
Say no more, Squire!

Review courtesy Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” WEEKLY RADIO SHOW on lionheartradio.com

Released in 24th. July 2020
https://www.billkirchen.com/

Prinz Grizzley TO MY GREEN MOUNTAINS HOME

Prinz Grizzley
To My Green Mountains Home
Self-Released

Carefully Planned and Crafted Country Songs from From Downtown Austria.

The title of this, Prinz Grizzley’s second album, after “Come On In” forms the second part of a sentence – the full scope of which will be completed by the title of the third album (For those of you not paying attention at the back, that’s:
#1. Come On In
# 2. To My Green Mountains Home
#3…?”).
This carefully planned and crafted approach is reflected through the release, where the songwriting stands to the fore – each track standing alone, but also as part of a cohesive body of reflections on the life and loves of the everyman – whether he’s from East Nashville, or the fabulously monickered Egg, Austria, home of Prinz Grizzley aka Chris Comper.
The fuzz guitar, pedal steel and soulful vocal of the opening track “You Don’t Know Love” explores how love is seen from different viewpoints and acts as a primer for many of the tracks to come, in lyrical content.
“Nothing Left But Scars” and “Keep The Fire High” both deal with failed love and musically bring in a few psychedelic touches with swirly organ from producer Beau Bedford on the former, whereas the latter is laced with a fuzzy bass-led cosmic cowboy groove.
“Meet Me at The Pines” is even lyrically bleaker with the song’s character wanting to save someone – who he himself has pushed to the edge, thus is the paradoxical nonsensical nature of relationships.
Things get a bit more hopeful in theme on “Longing For a Fire” where driving mandolin and harmonica create an adrenaline rush of hope for the singer who wants love but can’t change to get it – and “All I got is buckets filled with rain”.
Positivity and the finding of love is out there though and on “Drifting” – with Erin Rae featured on soaring backing vocals – there “ain’t no way back to solitude” because our hero, on the cliff-edge of emotional disaster has found love.
Elsewhere on the album, there’s a great deal of exploration of the working class everyman; “Rush Little Man”’s melancholy pedal steel underscores a talking blues which explores similar themes to Springsteen’s “Factory”, whereas father issues and wanting to be something different romps along to a train beat on the Texas Meat Purveyors’ style “Cutting Wood”.
There’s a tribute to the strength of women and how they support men on the Mexican rhythms of Magdalena but for me the album’s standout track is the Waits-ian “Shovel” a story of the immigrant working man who comes to town, works hard – and gets the girl, much to the chagrin of the locals who think he’d “better stick to the shovel”….
The title track is a fluid Gill Landryesque paean to small town life and tradition – and to feel part of something. Recorded live in a couple of takes, it’s a confident and snug performance which reflects the security that home can give you – and that theme is also played out gloriously on the final track which launches into Decemberists territory with the sea shanty singalong of “The Salty Life of Ocean” which reaffirms that everything may go to pieces  but you can always “go home to the safe shore”.
Prinz Grizzley with “To My Green Mountains Home” have delivered a carefully crafted thing of beauty – apart from Chris Comper and his band the Beargaroos, kudos must also go to producer Beau Bedford who has made sure that performances and sound match the sentiments perfectly to create a finely honed and mature record.
Looking forward to Number Three!

Review by Nick Barber
Released 26th June 2020
http://prinzgrizzley.com/
https://prinzgrizzley.bandcamp.com/

My Darling Clementine COUNTRY DARKNESS Vol II

My Darling Clementine
COUNTRY DARKNESS Vol II
Fretstore Records

Capturing the Humility of Costello and the Heartbreak of Country Quite Perfectly.

When I saw Michael Weston-King promoting this EP on Social Media a couple of weeks ago, I thought “Hang on a wee minute there fella! I haven’t even heard Vol I!!”
Now; I appreciate that RMHQ is but a very tiny cog in the wheels that turn the music industry; but I still thought we were or at least should be still on the Christmas Card List, and grumpily stamped my foot, slammed the kitchen door and said so.
Bless him; but Michael got a copy (download) to me later the same day 🙂
Was my hissy fit worthwhile?
Hell yes! Of course it was ……… My Darling Clementine singing Elvis Costello? Plus, there’s the sublime addition of Sir Steve Nieve too ….. come on, what’s not to like?
I agree with Michael in the accompanying doc. opening song Either Side of the Same Town could well be one of Costello’s finest ever songs; there’s the angst of youth in the lyrics; but subtly shrouded in luscious Country melody and when sung as he Duet by Michael and Lou, shivers not just run down your back; but come up the other side too.
Simply beautiful …… literally and metaphorically.
Things don’t get much cheerier on I Lost You; but again the best Country songs have always been heartbreakers and Michael certainly sings his part as if his heart is in shreds; and Lou sounds like it was her wielding the knife.
It’s quite bizarre to hear these adaptations of left of centre Elvis Costello songs taken right out of context; then discover that they were always Country Songs at heart. If I’m totally honest I didn’t recognise a word or note in Different Finger …… why would I? I didn’t know Country Music way back in 1981, although now with the benefit of hindsight the original on Trust actually was a bit Countryish in content; but My Darling Clementine take it back to it’s Louisiana Hayride Roots and beyond.
Then, there’s (Still) Too Soon To Know; from one of Elvis’s most underrated albums, BRUTAL YOUTH ………. YIKES! This is nothing at all like the original; and how Michael and Lou ever managed to dig deep to create an almost Southern Gothic opus, I will never know …….. but they do; which makes this my Favourite Song here by a mile.
I’m not sure why this two releases are EP’s as combined (I’ve now purchased Vol. I), they would certainly have made one of My Darling Clementine’s best albums; but hey …… they are what they are and they are the perfect accompaniment for feeling very, very sorry for yourself …… which I do on a regular basis.

Released June 12th 2020
https://mydarlingclementine.bandcamp.com/
https://mydarlingclementinemusic.co.uk/





Daniel Meade BULLETS and BONES (EP)

Daniel Meade
Bullets and Bones (EP)
Self-Release

Songs From the Coolest Honky-Tonk Jukebox in Coolsville.

Recorded in between hand sanitising and midnight feeds this ‘Solo’ EP (plus Michael Gahagan on drums from across the road) is a ‘Download Only’ release; and I can’t think of a much better way to spend 15 minutes during this Plague Infested Lockdown.
It certainly sounds like Meade was great having fun in the studio; which is what Good Ole Country infested Rock n Roll has always been about, surely?
Break Me Down to Pieces opens with some rather nifty pub/Honky-Tonk piano and then the grizzly guitar enters followed by Dan giving us his finest Hank impersonation ….. or is it George Jones? Who knows and who cares …… it’s a blast!
Bullets and Bones, the song is an uncluttered and unpretentious slice of maudlin Rockabilly as your ears may ever hear …….. with Meade playing his geetar as if he was born somewhere South of the Mason Dixon Line circa 1945!
When you first hear the opening bars to Through the Dirt you’re not sure where it’s going; but we find out soon enough ……. this is definitely George Jones territory but out of the South Side of Old Glasgow Town. Brutally inspired drum patterns and enough Presbyterian organ to fill a cathedral form a solid spine allowing Meade to attempt a take on a Scottish Gospel Rocker ….. or something like that.
Then …… it’s all over. Three songs is all you get ……. but the beauty here is …… you’re left wanting more …… more and then some more.
I wish that I could stop myself; but I keep using the word ‘Romantic’ to describe Americana (and beyond) these days ……. and this EP is the perfect example. While 99% of the times you hear these songs you will be listening in the car or perhaps on public transport, but when you do close your eyes (preferably when NOT driving!) you will think you are in a dive bar in the rough end of Bumfork, West Virginia or similar and someone cool is playing them on the Juke-Box in the corner.

Released April 30th 2020
https://danielmeade.bandcamp.com/
http://www.danielmeademusic.com/



Ashley McBryde NEVER WILL

Ashley McBryde
Never Will
Warner Nashville

The Sound of a Girl Arriving At The Top.

I’ve been on tenterhooks for weeks waiting for this to arrive; only to find RMHQ is now so far down the pecking order that the Review ‘download’ was only sent to me on the actual ‘day of release’.
Whereas a CD of Girl Going Nowhere was sent unsolicited a month ahead of its release ‘asking for a review’…… that’s how far Ashley McBryde has travelled in such a short time.
I’ve now played the album three times and have a ‘feel’ for where Ashley is coming from….. I hope.
I had a chuckle the first time I heard opening track Hang In There Girl; as the guitar parts are more than a little bit Rolling Stonesesque and even the drums come from the Charlie Watts school of drumming. The song, or should I say story, is 100% Country and as sharply observed and punchy as I’d hoped it would be.
If there’s even a smidgen of doubt in your mind about how Ashley’s new found status in Nashville Town may effect her songs; then Track #2 One Night Standards will certainly put your mind at rest. This is Country Deluxe and shows a new found maturity and perhaps even confidence in her pitch; and boy oh boy do those guitars squeal like a Ford Mustang going around a 90 degree corner!
I suppose it isn’t easy for a songwriter to follow up a succesful album; but you wouldn’t know it here; as Ashley and her co-writers have constructed some Modern Country Classics …… and that’s a sentiment I don’t use lightly.
Possibly because of the A-Team songwriters she has sat down with; Ashley’s new songs really flow like a river in torrent; just as one ends and you think you have time to draw breath, you will find yourself hurled down another set of emotional rapids.
Already, I love the feisty break-up song First Thing I Reach For, with the pay-off chorus:
The first thing I reach for
Is the last thing I need
.”
Then there’s the astute Country Rocker, Never Will, showing a woman that’s not afraid to bare her soul to the masses; and I can only presume this will get a standing ovation when played in Concert Halls around the globe.
Ms McBryde even drops in big ole Power Ballad when you least expect it. BOOM! It’s certainly not meant as a criticism; but Jay Joyce’s Production on Voodoo Doll here is B.I.G compared to anything on Girl Going Nowhere and it works perfectly well as the ‘story’ is every bit as B.I.G as the sound that comes out of your speakers.
In many ways, this is probably the album Ashley has dreamed of recording all her life; her songs are perfectly matched to some magical musical backdrops, like on Sparrow and Velvet Red; but and this won’t come as a surprise to many fans. There are not just surprises around every corner but exciting ‘experiments’ that shake the Country formula to it’s dusty roots.
I’m thinking Martha Divine and Shut Up Sheila here; with both throwing caution to the wind with their musical interplay; but never ever not being pure damn Country songs. This girl is still prepared to take risks with her music…… and that’s a mighty good thing.
Speaking of taking risks, the finale; Styrofoam is a bit odd; but hey ….. what the Hell; I actually like it now; and maybe in concert it’s meant to be a drinking song?
That only leaves my Favourite Song; and after three plays it’s not been easy; as several tracks here could be ‘Game Changers’ for Ashley; but the song Mrs. Magpie and I have actually agreed on is …….. Stone. It’s a bit different to the rest of the album; gentle even, but don’t let that fool you; these biting lyrics will send a shiver down your spine in the way Loretta, Reba and even Bobbie Gentry used to release back in the day; and Ashley McBryde has created a timeless beauty in their images; but with contemporary 2020 razor sharp observations too. …….. just as you’d expect.
Well; even allowing for my initial excitement this morning; I think I can comfortably say that Ashley McBryde has now arrived at the pinnacle that her teenage peers sneered at her ever achieving.
I don’t give a stuff to whatever else is released from the major labels this year; I doubt there will be a more important or better Country Album than this one and it and Ashley herself, will scoop all of the Top Awards that the ACM, CMA and CMT has to offer.

Released April 3rd 2020
https://www.ashleymcbryde.com/