Record Of The Week # 135

Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville

McBryde’s new album is a collaboration. It really is a tour de force. The title Lindeville needs explaining and to lift her PR it was ‘Inspired by the writing methods of legendary Nashville songwriter Dennis Linde (Goodbye Earl, Burning Love, Bubba Shot the Jukebox), Ashley McBryde set out with a group of her favourite co-writers to work up a project they had no intention of ever recording or releasing.’ And this is what came from that week-long exercise in a rural cabin outside Nashville. 

Lyrically this is an album where you hang onto every word and musically it’s straight country with the songwriters finding excellent tunes whether sad, upbeat or amusing. A nod must go to John Osborne for his arrangements, sounds and the accomplished band that played throughout.

Her collaborators are several but include Brandy Clark, Aaron Ratiere and Brothers Osborne. Each track is a complete gem and occasionally interspersed with some 30 second joke adverts for the businesses in ‘Lindeville’ such as the diner, pawn shop and funeral parlour; if you were doubting this was a lot of fun then lyrics like ‘The cheapest destination / For two for one cremations / Forkem family funeral home’ may convince you, especially when sung à las Andrew Sisters! Brenda Put Your Bra On is a hilarious short story. The neighbour’s husband is messing with the babysitter and after being caught in flagrante delicto the wife’s now dismantling the siren of his desire. This rumpus has become a spectator sport and Brenda is urged to join the viewing albeit with her own support in place. It’s a near funky rock rhythm with McBryde, Caylee Hammack and Pillbox Patti replicating beautifully bitchy trailer park trash personas. Some of the lyrics are virtually unprintable, brilliant!

If this is earthy then the whole album is based on small town strugglers whether they’re the architects of their own downfall or simply victims. The Brothers Osborne’s Play Ball has the best of sentimental country lyrics: a lonely good man who has little but bad luck helping others and maintaining a positive attitude against all the odds. Clark sings If These Dogs Could Talk where she introduces the trailer park’s pooches and the infidelity, drug deals, discrimination and secrets that they discretely observe – ‘If these dogs could talk / They’d sure tell on you / We’re all lucky barkin’ is all they can do / They dig up your secrets, they know all your trash’. 

Benjy Davis takes on Gospel Night At The Strip Club; his plaintive vocals create a form of prayer vibe as he paints a picture of those in the club and their human frailties seemingly existing rather than much else. It’s lower than downbeat but the pathos and empathy for the characters he describes is profound and captivating. The collection of females who work on the album come together to sing Bonfire At Tina’s. It’s an anthemic song where McBryde leads Hammock, Clark and Pillbox Patti in a call and response about the injustices small town women suffer – ‘Got cheated on – light it up / Don’t get paid enough – light it up / Don’t get laid enough – light it up / You got a joint – light it up’. Spine tingling. After the earnest craftsmanship of these songwriters creating magic there’s an easy piece of alchemy when they take on the Everly Brother’s When Will I Be Loved with a joyous ‘get up on your feet’ arrangement.

One of the best albums I’ve heard this year.

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