By Erin Crosby
Ashley McBryde is undoubtedly one of the most daring up-and-coming female country artists, who not only has a vulnerable yet powerful voice that turns heads, but spunk and personality to match. With her 2017 debut single “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega”, McBryde successfully introduced herself as a polished and confident artist, securing her place on country radio. The lyrics solidified her well-deserved spot even more by taking part in the songwriting process among Jesse Rice and Nicolette Hayford. “Girl Going Nowhere” soon followed, alongside her debut album, which acted as the title track and single-handedly won the hearts of America during the 2019 ACM Awards.
The Arkansas native took some time off from releasing new music until a new single titled “One Night Standards” came out in August. Though, there’s nothing small about this track. It goes against all the love songs that country music is so known for.
The chorus reads: “It’s just a room key / You ain’t gotta lie to me / Can’t you just use me like I’m using you? / How it goes is, bar closes / There’s no king bed covered in roses / Just a room without a view / I don’t want a number you ain’t gonna answer / Let’s just stick to the one night standards”. The honesty within the track overrides the shame of inviting an almost stranger to share a night together. But there is no shame depicted, rather McBryde presents it as a natural response to loneliness with “I ain’t gonna say I never do this / ‘cause truth is, loneliness makes a heart ruthless”.
The video adds to the already gutsy song with a heavy, complex storyline that involves cheating and murder. McBryde acts as the desk receptionist at a motel while a strangely paired couple books a room and things get…intense, to say the least. Interestingly enough, the supporting roles within the video are not given a voice, everything is muted to give the lyrics their weight, which is surprisingly effective. You are able to feel the anger, uneasiness, and anxiety despite the lack of sound coming from the story displayed on the screen. Still, the viewers are given a spoonful of thrill and horror, something you wouldn’t normally find in a music video, and yet the entertainment is much appreciated.
“Martha Divine” waand acts as the second half to the “One Night Standards” music video which ended with a “to be continued”. The series of storytelling through many songs not only practically guarantees returning viewers, but it also creates a deeper connection to the material by building these 3-dimensional characters. Take a listen to the new track, grab some popcorn and prepare yourself for the continued anguish of the unflattering deed that is getting rid of a corpse.
First off, the lyrics are vengeful and resentful while a layer of self-justification is involved in defending the, deemed reasonable, reaction to discovering your dad with another woman. “You put your hands on the wrong damn man this time / Jezebel, you’re bound for Hell / But evidently, the devil was busy so I moved you up in line, Martha Divine” showcases the guilt-free attitude of those participants of the vicious crime. It’s similar to “Two Black Cadillacs” by Carrie Underwood with the honorable stance these ladies take in seeking revenge, no matter the delicate balance of morale and imprisonment possibilities.
The video takes an interesting twist by opening at the same hotel as the “One Night Standards” music video with all the characters as if no time as passed since the making of it. This creates a pretty dense layer of suspense, with help from the steady, thick beat of the song. The one difference is that the camera focuses on the mistress’ signature, Martha Divine, while checking into the room which is clever, for obvious reasons. “Martha Divine” is the same story as the previous track, set from a slightly different perspective, the daughters. McBryde sings from the young girls’ perspective with “Momma’s an angel / My daddy isn’t / Looks like a little more rubbed off on me that didn’t” as an indication of the narrator (McBryde) telling a story rather than herself playing an important role in the action. The identical production of the two different songs is somehow more satisfying than continuing the story and revealing how the night ends up with all of its foul glory.
“Martha Divine” goes along with McBryde’s feisty approach that is apparent in a wide selection of her songs. Despite the toughness, her voice is commonly paired with this raw, bittersweet sentiment to it in the more stripped-down tracks such as “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” and “The Jacket”. This artist is versatile with her vocal abilities and succeeds whether the level of spunk overrides the vulnerability within the song or not. Ashley McBryde is one to look out for because of the broad range of messages her song stories convey as well as her tendency to tell a story in one song and speak true, personal lyrics in another.
“Martha Divine” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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