Ashley McBryde Fills ‘Cool Little Bars’ With Heart & Americana

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Tresa Patterson

Undoubtedly, Ashley McBryde already masters many of the milestones artists aspire to achieve. The Girl Going Nowhere songwriter embraces her hard times, hurts, and struggles to bring deeper breadth and truth to any song she writes. Already, her collection of awards, from a Grammy to multiple CMA and ACM honors regale guests in her bathroom, as Country Music Alley detailed back in 2020.

Not at all by coincidence, Ashley McBryde graces American Songwriter with such frequency that even seasoned chart-toppers marvel at the feat. While the Arkansas native conjures every comfort of hearth and home with Light On In The Kitchen, she takes a completely different, yet still loving turn, with Cool Little Bars, the latest release from her upcoming album, The Devil I Know, dropping September 8. Keep reading to find out what makes the song so personal to Ashley McBryde and the creative partners who paint the portrait of the neighborhood bar.

A place everyone knows

“We need those little holes in the wall/For lost souls and old stray dogs” Ashley McBryde implores. In perfect accord with the cigarette machine by the shuffleboard, she reminds that there’s a “pickle jar sittin’ on the bar where your money goes.” Although six bucks gets the customer a beer and a shot, the “same old dudes playin’ dominoes every afternoon” feel a purpose and a passion only imparted in this very real, yet increasingly mythical, home away from home—no alcohol necessary– just the company.

“I have a huge appreciation for bars that have stood the test of time and have a lot of character,” Ashley McBryde affirms in a Taste of Country feature. Of course, McBryde honed her performance chops in just such places. She praises that “I’m proud for the education I gained in them. Certainly, her friend Garth Brooks agrees. Finally, the Never Will songwriter sums up that Cool Little Bar, saluting “such bars for my entertainment style,” as Stereogum conveys.

For her part, Ashley McBryde never will accept the “less charming, sterile, and predictable gathering places” that unfortunately replace favorite neighborhood haunts. When it comes to the familiar faces and talents of old friends, though, they always feel at home.

Old friends and the same old sensations

Fortunately, friendships defy category or genre for Ashley McBryde. Her touch for drilling right into the heart of a song is as deft with heavy metal’s Izzy Hale as it is with country music queen, Wynonna. Fresh off her rich, full collaboration, Ashley McBryde Presents Lindeville, McBryde pairs with Heart Like A Truck singer-songwriter, Lainey Wilson, and a steadfast friend, Trick Savage.

Despite his Oklahoma roots, Savage proves that Arkansas and Oklahoma are never so different or distant. To this day, his collaboration on A Bible And A .44 with Ashley McBryde produced one of the most beloved classics in her song catalog. That being said, neither he nor Wilson needed much urging to recall the same sticky tables with names and phone numbers carved in the wood, or the “drop coin” jukebox “with songs you don’t hear much anymore.”

Indeed, these writing sessions had to summon up memories of Ashley McBryde taking the stage with another friend, Eric Church, introducing her as she offered A Bible And A .44 in 2017. Beyond the boost to her career, the gesture became a boost to her confidence like no other. “We see you and we need you” was the message Ashley McBryde yearned to express with Cool Little Bars. Not surprisingly, the artist declares “I think we said it pretty good,” with the help of her partners.

What songs come next for Ashley McBryde?

Well, no one knows how many episodes of Cheers Ashley McBryde remembers, but, without a doubt, she knows every nook and cranny of several bars in the backcountry of Arkansas. To date, the title track, Learned To Lie, and Light On In The Kitchen join the roster of real gems released from The Devil I Know. Seven tracks await… Do you think the album will blast up the charts? Shout out in the comments and keep Country Music Alley your source for the latest country music news.

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