Ashley McBryde is one of the artists at C2C that’s been attracting huge buzz. The Arkansas-born singer-songwriter has been winning praise for her vocals and songwriting, and anticipation is high for her debut album which is due for release later this month. Yesterday McBryde gave C2C attendees a first taste of the record with an acoustic set at the BBC Radio 2 Stage, which was her first ever performance outside the US.
McBryde opened her show with the upbeat Radioland, and the first thing that hit me was her incredible vocal. She has a lovely richness and bluesy tone to her voice that gave the song a classic rock feel, and by the time she hit the chorus the crowd was singing along at the tops of their voices. I loved the imagery in her lyrics as well, particularly the first verse. She hit some huge powerful notes towards the end and the audience whooped and hollered their appreciation, which clearly meant a lot to her.
Throughout the set McBryde performed songs from her EP, Jalopies And Expensive Guitars, as well as songs from her forthcoming album. There’s a strong classic rock influence in her music on songs such as the soulful Lookin’ For A Buzz and Home Sweet Highway, where her vocal took on a gravelly edge. She was also incredibly open about the experiences which led her to write her songs, such as the biting humour of Fat And Famous, a kiss-off to her high school bullies, and the subdued Girl Going Nowhere which conveyed her iron will and steely determination to be a musician perfectly.
For me one of the highlights of the set was Bible And A .44, which McBryde wrote about her late father. She told the crowd about writing the song on his guitar before going into the gentle intro. Her moving lyrics were full of love and warmth and by the end she’d built up a wonderfully vivid portrait of her dad. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a few tears during the song and I don’t think I was the only one.
McBryde closed her set with A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega, a love letter to small town America which had a great sense of optimism and nostalgia. She then performed her ‘love song or not’ American Scandal, which was a fantastic moment to finish on. McBryde wrung every drop of emotion out of the raw, visceral lyrics and you could really feel the yearning and heartache in her powerful vocals. The audience was absolutely spellbound throughout before bursting into thunderous applause.
Overall I was absolutely blown away by Ashley McBryde’s performance. Her vocals were just stunning and she has a great turn of phrase, able to keep the crowd laughing and crying by turns. She also had incredible stage presence, commanding the audience’s attention and having the time of her life up there. It was clear those of us at Indigo had witnessed something really special and I can’t wait to hear more from her soon.
Set list: 1. Radioland 2. Lookin’ For A Buzz 3. Bible And A .44 4. Fat And Famous 5. Home Sweet Highway 6. Girl Going Nowhere 7. A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega 8. American Scandal Performance date: 10th March 2018