Singer Ashley Cooke is a breakout country music success story. Before her debut project, she had already established a fanbase through TikTok where she teases songs, interacts with followers who are interested in her music, and posts relatable content. She has over six hundred thousand followers plus a total of eight million likes on the platform. Cooke is also a founding member of the 615 house: an influencer house with rising Nashville artists who make content together. That account has nearly one million followers. After a series of singles, Cooke’s introductory album Already Drank that Beer – Side A paints her as a relatable rising star with eight songs that give fans more insight into who she is as a person, a songwriter, and an artist.
The project opens on a strong note with “Gettin Somewhere;” the perfect nighttime driving song about the intimate tension in a building relationship. In the chorus Cooke sings, “We’ve been ridin’ around this little town with the windows down all night long / We’ve been takin’ our time, doin’ 55 in a 65 to the right songs / Now we got the key and our seats pulled back / I love the way you look in the neon of the dash / Might be sittin’ still way up on a hill / Took us all night but I don’t care ‘cause now we’re gettin’ somewhere.” The track has fun electric guitars and towards the end of the song, her backing vocals come through as if they’re being played through radio static. It’s a gentle touch but adds leverage to the song and its meaning.
Pre-released singles fill the middle section of the album, many of them grabbing the attention of millions of TikTok users after Cooke played bits and pieces of them through her videos. “Under,” is a beautiful ballad with amusing wordplay, “Already Drank That Beer” is a song about getting out of a toxic relationship, and “Good Goodbye” is a collaboration with ACM winner Jimmie Allen.
The seventh track, “First Time, Last Night” was described on TikTok by Cooke as, “You know when you’re finally able to go out and have a good time and not think about your ex or wanting to call them? You’ll get this song then.” The lyrics document the situation of being at a familiar place that has painful memories attached, but finally forgetting about the past and moving on. Cooke sings, “For the first time, last night walked into that bar that we used to call ours / First sip didn’t hit like it used to / Like it used to when I was washing down the missing you / Yeah my heart didn’t sink when your song came on / I didn’t ditch all my friends when I saw you call / Damn right, I was drinking but it wasn’t cause I needed to / I forgot about you for the first time, last night.”
The LP ends with the acoustic and softly romantic, “Never Til Now.” The transition from “First Time, Last Night” is meaningful in a way that signifies Cooke’s newfound happiness. Written by Cooke and Matt Roy, the lyrics expand on Cooke’s feelings about never seeing a certain future for herself until she met someone special who changed her mind. Her low voice is sweet-sounding and pure; her message is conveyed flawlessly because she has the capability to sing exactly how she feels. The production is more stripped back, especially at the beginning where her vocals are given center stage to tell her heartfelt narrative where she describes herself as a “painting of imperfection” and “unsettled and restless.” She gushes over being proved wrong in the best way as she states, “Thought I’d always be alone ‘cause / I never wanted to tap my brakes / I never wanted to settle down / I was always one foot out the door / I never thought about turnin’ ‘round / Never saw myself with a white picket fence dug into the ground / Never til now.”
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