Despite the absolutely shocking dearth of female country artists on mainstream country radio and largely ignored by the Nashville machine we are actually living in what could be described as a golden age of really talented women in country. The likes of Margo, Courtney Marie, Jaime Wyatt, Ashley, Angaleena and Miranda, Amanda’s Shires and Anne Platt, Whiney Rose, HC McEntire to name check a few are leading the charge. You can now add Ashley McBryde to that list. With her third release ‘Girl Going Nowhere’ released this year her songwriting sees a new maturity. It’s full of hooks, great stories and dare I say radio friendly tunes. It’s a consistently good album and will certainly be in my top ten albums of the year of any genre. 2018 has been a massive breakthrough year from appearing down the bill at C2C to now a headlining sold out show at Islington Assembly Hall and a record breaking album in the UK.
And luckily for us most of that album is played tonight. In the absence of a setlist Ashley takes us all around her back catalogue with a sprinkling of covers and many requests from the audience including one of my favourites from the equally excellent EP ‘Jalopies & Expensive Guitars’, ‘Better on the Water’.
I have written before about there being nothing purer that an artist solo with just an acoustic guitar on stage and tonight Ashley fills the venue with her presence and sound. Its helps that she has a ready-made backing vocal section of the crowd who sing along to most songs often taking over lead vocals for a chorus or two. As I fast approach attending 800 gigs, what has impressed me over the last couple of years is the sheer enthusiasm of the UK country fan. It creates a great atmosphere and this is truly felt and appreciated by Ashley tonight.
And to those that say a London audience are often quiet and standoffish, well come along to a country gig in the capital and you will have a great time with a knowledgeable crowd.
Highlights tonight are many and varied and from the new album ‘Radioland’, ‘American Scandal’ and set closer the moving two fingers to you non-believers ‘Girl Going nowhere’ really hit the spot.
A super evening of top quality music tonight
Until the next time keep on rockin y’all