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Review: Ashley McBryde - The Devil I Know

Cover art for Ashley McBryde's 'The Devil I Know'

This time last year I was listening to Ashley McBryde's Lindeville on repeat; admiring the perfectly crafted stories she and her collaborators were telling, falling in love with the characters and getting completely immersed in this fictional town.

Just one year and three CMA nominations later, McBryde is back with the explosive 'The Devil I Know'.

With it's country-rock leaning guitar solos, powerful vocals, catchy chorus melodies and carefully crafted lyrics, it is McBryde at her very best!

It begins with the arena ready sound of 'Made For This' which instantly grabs the listeners attention. Co-written by McBryde and Travis Meadows who is the man behind such hits as Dierks Bentley's 'Riser', this definitely feels like an instant fan favourite and a soon-to-be highlight of McBryde's live shows.

The second track, 'Coldest Beer In Town' is one of my favourites on the record. It's country to the core from the lyrical theme to the mandolin and subtle organ in the production. That first verse, instantly makes you smile, "What happens out in Vegas don't always stay in Vegas/No, sometimes it looks you up and calls your house/And you know it rains every day down in the sunshine state/But that part of the brochure got left out" - it's relatable and amusing.

Lead single “Light On In The Kitchen” continues to climb the charts in the top 25 while earning a nomination for CMA Music Video of the Year. Co-penned by Jessi Alexander and Connie Harrington - two of the three writers behind Lee Brice's 'I Drive Your Truck', it's no wonder this track speaks directly to the heart. McBryde's vocals are smooth, not as fierce as on the previous tracks, there's a delicate yet comforting nature to them.

The tempo comes back up for 'Women Ain't Whiskey', it's so easy to understand why McBryde is nominated for female vocalist of the year for the fourth time in as many years with songs like this. She belts out that chorus and has such a pleasing tone to her voice.

Produced by Jay Joyce the instrumentation and arrangement is well thought out to support the songs, McBryde's vocals and bring out the emotion she was aiming for. A good example of this is 'Learned to Lie' which builds throughout until the instrumental ending which keeps the tension high.

'Single At The Same Time' is another prime example as McBryde sounds vulnerable, the brushes on the drums, the swooning slide guitars perfectly compliment the feelings, the nostalgic nature of this unique track.

At the same time 'Cool Little Bar' starts with the background noise that sets the scene of a bar atmosphere, distant laughing. Co-written with fellow female vocalist of the year nominee, Lainey Wilson it's an upbeat, fun number which is another that I think will go down well in a live setting.

'Blackout Betty' is a nod to Lindeville and exhibits similar energy levels to the opening track, it's not one for the country purists, with it being the heaviest track on the album but there's also a number of tracks that would cater for that audience, such as the closing track '6th of October' which is in 6/8 time - I love country songs in 6/8 time! Co-written with Blue Foley and CJ Field it is a lovely end to an outstanding record.

McBryde keeps going from strength to strength, pushing the boundaries of the genre and exceeding expectations. She's come along way from the 'Girl Going Nowhere' and is deserving of the accolades and nominations she's garnering. With so many superb country albums released this year, it is hard to select a favourite but this record from McBryde is surely going to be in contention for the best album of 2023!

'The Devil I Know' is available NOW!

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