In just one album, Never Will: Live From A Distance, Ashley McBryde manages to combine different styles, voices, and themes of country music in almost all of her songs, providing a unique listening experience. This new project helps to bring life to the songs that were originally released during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

McBryde has written, or helped write, almost every single song on this album, with the exception of just two songs, “Shut Up Sheila” and “Styrofoam.” Some songs are reminiscent of old-school country, while others are a hybrid genre of rock and country. Whether you’re looking to jam out to an electric guitar or sing along in your best country twang, McBryde’s Never Will has a song for every occasion.

Have you ever had a family friend that is judgmental and maybe a little rude? “Shut Up Sheila” captures that frustration. “Sheila” is judging the family for not praying, reading from the Bible, or handling things in Sheila’s way. To answer Sheila’s judgement for the family not living a perfect life, McBryde promptly sings, “Shut up Sheila.” McBryde’s voice in this song does not have as thick of a country twang as some of her other songs, and the instrumentation is similar to classic rock influences, featuring a lengthy electric guitar solo like Aerosmith or Guns N’ Roses. “First Thing I Reach For,” like “Shut Up Sheila,” is another song about not being perfect. McBryde sings about how “the first thing I reach for is the last thing I need,” like reaching for cigarettes, alcohol, or coffee. This song is relatable to most people, as we all have bad habits that we should work on. This song has a faster tempo than “Shut Up Sheila,” and is a bit more upbeat, but both are similar in theme. Both of these songs are great to listen to or sing along when you have a bad day and just need to vent some frustration.

Imagine Dolly Parton’s classic “Jolene.” Then, imagine a song with a similarly powerful female vocalist, but instead of singing along with acoustic guitars, imagine a fast, loud drum set and intense electric guitar segments. “Martha Divine” and “Voodoo Doll” are both songs that hit hard and provide visceral imagery to heartbreak and the struggles of having an unfaithful relationship. McBryde’s powerful voice and the strong music makes the overall tone and themes of the songs even richer. “Martha Divine” and “Voodoo Doll” are songs that are not just heard, but also felt.

Ashley McBryde Never Will

“Sparrow” and “Velvet Red” emphasize McBryde’s more traditional country style and voice. Departing from the rock influences seen in other songs on the album, they showcase McBryde’s twangy voice, rich acoustic guitars, and upbeat drums. “Velvet Red” features background vocalists that are like the bluegrass genre. In “Sparrow,” McBryde sings about loving the ability to fly like a sparrow, but also feeling bittersweet about “missing what’s on the ground.” This song is an example of how the grass is not always greener on the other side. “Velvet Red” is saturated with storytelling. The song is about a wealthy girl who falls in love with a boy “from the holler.” They fall in love, and eventually have a child, though it does not seem like the boy knows about the child. The song ends with the narrator explaining how the girl named her child Velvet Red, and that the narrator is called Velvet Red, so the song is actually about the narrator’s parents.

The project which displays McBryde’s true power as a live performer should only further excite fans for her upcoming, ‘This Town Talks’ Theater Tour. For full dates and more information click here.

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