On the recent morning of October 6th, award-winner and five-time 2022 CMA nominee, Ashley McBryde, was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She was with Garth Brooks on CBS Morning Live when it was announced to her. She was in New York City promoting her latest album, "Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville". When she heard the news, she replied, "It would be the great joy and the great honor of my life."
When you listen to the album, it is a wonder how it was made under the strict jurisdiction of the Music Row system in Nashville. The interesting thing about her album is that it is rather unconventional in itself. The album is composed around characters from a fictional town named after the influential songwriter Dennis Linde.
The album stirs up a web of storytelling that could be read out almost like a stage play. A theatrical production of unravelling intricacies all played out by the songs. Tracks such as "Dandelion Diner" and "Ronnie's Pawn Shop" feel much like Lindeville business advertisements. The clever jingles sprinkled throughout the tracks by McBryde, allow you to feel like you are listening to an authentic AM radio station.
McBryde was very daring in her style choices and bold in her decision to create an album unlike other country albums of the day. The album contains explicit language, adult themes, and other rather subjective topics. It was typical for Nashville's major labels to frown upon these things. Perhaps when you listen to the first few tracks, they seem almost like frilly clichés. But as you descend into the album, you hear more serious and meaningful lyrics. McBryde's cover of "When Will I Be Loved" is a lovely example, as is the inspired "Bonfire at Tina's".
This particular album is unmistakably more country than you might realize. It personifies the genre in a way that suits McBryde. Even more so than what the Brothers Osbourne are putting out these days. But the creative journey McBryde took with the album is clearly evident in the outcome.
"People are disasters. Sometimes someone gets their a** whupped for cheating [on their partner] in the parking lot of an Exxon filling station. And we're not just going to talk about it at the beauty salon. I hope this album is one where people hear it, feel smarter or better for hearing it, and when they do, it either makes their chins drop in thought, or they smile to themselves. Then I want them to whisper to their friends to stream it from beginning to end." McBryde once said in an interview. The album may be a creation most are not used to hearing in modern country music, but McBryde captures the feel-good of Americana. The album sprang from a silly little writing session during the pandemic, and as McBryde put it, "All of us who took part in this are people who get really weird if we don't fuel the creativity that drives our careers. We also needed to feel good by telling some stories in song that made us laugh."
The album goes on to prove that it will continue to break the mold of typical music writing styles of mainstream country music. McBryde's "Lindeville" shows that we are entering a period of artistic opportunities in more ways imaginable.
Written by Gabrielle Thompson