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Albums of the Year 2018: Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2018: Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere

Albums of the Year 2018: Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere

Charismatic country singer arrives with her Grammy-nominated major-label debut

'A girl going somewhere' - Ashley McBryde

Ashley McBryde had a very busy year in 2018.

After the Arkansas singer-songwriter and "curly-headed bourbon enthusiast" played a tiny stage at Country To Country, she released her debut album to huge acclaim and a Grammy nod; toured with fellow no-nonsense country star Luke Combs; played Jools Holland; sold out her first headline show in London – and made Barack Obama’s "favorite songs of 2018" list. She’s now set to play C2C’s main stage in March, sharing the bill with country giants Lyle Lovett and Chris Stapleton.

Full of rich Southern storytelling, radio-friendly choruses and gritty blues, Girl Going Nowhere begins with a title track that sticks two fingers up at the doubters, followed by the absolute belter "Radioland", co-written by Autumn McEntire (niece of Reba). You want an aching, whiskey-soaked ballad? Try "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega" or "Southern Babylon". A chorus that’ll make you punch the air it’s so perfect? "American Scandal". While McBryde had already impressed with self-released 2016 EP Jalopies & Expensive Guitars (well worth seeking out, particularly for the stunning "Bible and a .44"), this put her firmly in the spotlight.

McBryde came onto my radar after I saw Luke Combs at the CMA Songwriters’ Series, booked to see him at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and decided to check out support McBryde, who was also playing her own show at Omeara. At Shepherd’s Bush a solo, acoustic McBryde valiantly battled a rude and rowdy crowd, but when she topped the bill at the beautiful Islington Assembly Hall – venue upgraded due to demand – it was pure magic. Solo once again, she held the audience in the palm of her hand – even getting everyone singing along to an a cappella "Amazing Grace" – and shook her head in joyous disbelief at the crowd’s passionate reaction.

It was one of my gig highlights of 2018, which went from tiny (Brent Cowles at Thousand Island) to huge (Iron Maiden at the O2) and included memorable shows by the Stones, Mavis Staples and David Crosby. And I’m seriously looking forward to seeing McBryde rock the O2 this year - this is a girl going somewhere.

Two more essential albums of 2018:

Bruce Springsteen – Springsteen on Broadway

Brent Cowles – How to Be Okay Alone

Gig of the Year:

Mavis Staples, Union Chapel

Track of the Year:

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA (Springsteen on Broadway)

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