Album Review – “Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville”
It’s a remarkable achievement that an album like this was even made under the otherwise repressive jurisdiction of the Music Row system in Nashville. No, you should not consider this like a conventional album release by Ashley McBryde, meaning a succession of potential radio singles and album cuts sequenced into a typical track list. McBryde barely appears on some of these songs, and some of the songs aren’t really songs at all. This is more of a conceptualized collaboration between Ashley McBryde and some of her fellow songwriters. It’s also quite interesting, and cool.
The album came together over a week long songwriting retreat at a cabin just outside of Nashville. Such retreats are not uncommon in the mainstream country ecosystem. Eric Church and others take this same tact to making records. They also commonly result in more songs than are needed for an album, and often, songs that are never meant for public consumption, but are written in jest, for the songwriters to entertain each other or stimulate themselves creatively, and sometimes, songs that are just too racy for mass consumption.
Now imagine an album comprised of these other songs that are usually left on the cutting house floor, not because they’re not quality, but because they’re just not songs that are usually considered commercially applicable, at least by prevailing notions. That is what Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville is—composed around the characters of a fictional town named after the influential songwriter Dennis Linde, who penned such gems as “Bubba Shot The Jukebox” by Mark Chesnutt, “Goodbye Earl” by the [Dixie] Chicks, and Sammy Kershaw’s “Queen of My Doublewide Trailer,” which incidentally, features the same “Earl” from the “Goodbye Earl” song.
Creating a little universe where the characters from different songs interact with each other is the direct inspiration behind this album. With songs like “Shut Up Sheila” and “Livin’ Next to Leroy,” Ashley McBryde already had a strong penchant for character-driven songs in her repertoire. So with songwriters Aaron Raitiere, Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, Connie Harrington, Benjy Davis, Pillbox Patti (Nicolette Hayford), and Brothers Osborne, they chose to create a small town with a specific cast of characters to live in it.
You could consider Lindeville just as much like a stage production as you could a studio album, with the cast of characters unfolding before you as the songs transpire. A few of the tracks are commercials for Lindeville businesses, specifically the “Dandelion Diner,” “Ronnie’s Pawn Shop,” and the “Forken Family Funeral Home,” with Ashley McBryde’s jingles filtered through an AM radio to give them a more authentic feel. For the male characters, Aaron Raiterie, Benjy Davis, and T.J. Osborne step up to sing lead, just as Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, and Pillbox Patti do as well. John Osborne of Brothers Osborne was the producer of the album.
Again, not enough can be said about the out-of-the-box nature of this effort, and how unusual this is for a major country music label like Warner Music Nashville to release it. It’s a passion project, and one that couldn’t have been cheap to make. Though Ashley McBryde has been a huge critical success, it’s not like she’s a commercial powerhouse. But somehow she’s won the latitude to make something like this, and you can’t help but cheer her on, even if it’s not your thing. It’s somewhat reminiscent of some Dierks Bentley projects, like Up On The Ridge, or his Hot Country Knights band.
And some of these songs include explicit language, adult themes, and others stuff that typically Nashville major labels would frown upon. But if we’re being honest, this side of the country music songwriting realm also comes with its own set of songwriting clichés. This sort of campy exposé of small town rural life is not novel, including in the mainstream. It’s what Kacey Musgraves started her career on, what the Pistol Annies devoted their first couple of records to, and what has buttered Brandy Clark’s bread for the majority of her career.
You also feel like you need a few more songs here to flesh out a complete picture of the doings of Lindeville. But as the album continues on, the tracks become less silly, and there’s some really stellar and more serious stuff, whether it’s McBryde’s cover of “When Will I Be Loved,” or the inspired “Bonfire At Tina’s” and “Lindeville.” And this album is also unmistakably country—certainly more country than Ashley McBryde’s Jay Joyce-produced studio albums, and definitely more country than what John Osborne and Brothers Osborne are doing these days.
Ashley McBryde has already let it be known that she does have a proper third studio album also on the way, and perhaps sooner than later. Lindeville is just a quick detour on what is increasingly becoming one of the most interesting, critically-acclaimed, and important careers in the mainstream. This is not what she’s expecting to hang the next 18 months of her career on, or to seed radio with singles from.
But Lindeville is one of those albums that will go on to define a more compelling and atypical career from an artist that is helping to break the mold of what we can expect from major label country. Incidentally, it also helps highlight some important songwriters. But perhaps most importantly, Ashley McBryde’s Lindeville symbolizes that we may be entering an era when artists are allowed opportunities to do things that disrupt the regular rhythms of music production instead of only adhering to them. And that is exciting.
Two Guns Up (9/10)
(Editor’s note: In retrospective, the initial score for this record was deemed too low, and was changed.)
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Purchase Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville
September 30, 2022 @ 10:02 am
Ashley is in her creative prime right now. I still go back to listen to Girl Going Nowhere and Never Will and they have stood the test of time. I saw her in concert earlier last month and she played five unreleased tracks and all were amazing. She said during the show that her label won’t release her new album until the spring. Damn, that is too long to wait.
September 30, 2022 @ 6:38 pm
You should go listen to Jalopies and Expensive Guitars if you haven’t. It’s just as good!
September 30, 2022 @ 10:10 am
This is truly one of the best albums I have heard in years. Blown away by it on first listen. Have to admire the balls on Ashley to run with this coming off a number 1. This should win every award for country album. Can’t imagine anyone out doing this in the next few years
September 30, 2022 @ 11:21 am
I came in with medium expectations on this since it seemed to be a passion project but was blown away, it’s a great album and like Trig pointed out wish therr were a few more songs to round out the little town.
September 30, 2022 @ 1:07 pm
Storytelling at its finest.
September 30, 2022 @ 1:14 pm
I was not a fan but checked it out for the quirky song titles and damn are you right.. Even where it’s musically to much like everything else in mainstream country is substantially strong. And “Gospel Night At the Strip Club” is my favorite song so for this year. It’s like what we might have gotten if John Prine and Tom Waits ever tried to write a song together.
September 30, 2022 @ 1:44 pm
“Does the last call benediction then wipes the bar slate clean” is cherry on top of one of the finest written songs in recent memory
October 1, 2022 @ 10:45 pm
I was also reminded of Tom Waits’ weird 1970’s era. Piano has been drinking etc.
September 30, 2022 @ 1:48 pm
As a big Ashley McBryde fan I wasn’t sure what I’d be hearing as I put this album on for a listen last night. I was a tad skeptical but I quickly was enthralled by the drama of this small town. I listened to the album twice through; I laughed, I cried, and I truly reflected on my own life, in my own town.
The song Gospel Night at the Strip Club was incredible, simply as the fact this was released is on a big Nashville label. As a gay member of the country music community, I don’t get to hear much on the perspective of growing up gay in a small town, but those simple words… “Jesus loves the queers” spoke volumes, and Im sure that line hits homes to others who grew up similarly.
By the end of the album I was fully invested in the cast of Lindeville, as they’re all so relatable to many of that characters in our own towns. The final song “Lindeville”, Ashley’s vocals pack a punch. When she goes up an octave on the word whip poor will, I about died, it was so good. The entire album is so good! I imagine it’ll see little airplay on the radio, but no doubt it’ll be loved by the critics, and those who truly love the art form that is storytelling. Well done Ashley and crew. I am impressed by John Osborne’s production here. I hope she drops Joyce and sticks with Osborne. He did a great job.
October 1, 2022 @ 10:49 pm
Country music is missing out on an absolute gold mine of every day drama by (mostly) avoiding the topic of small town gays.
also assumed that the homeless main character in the Strip Club song is a gay man, though it’s just implied in the chorus. That song is also one of my favorites released by anyone so far this year.
December 29, 2022 @ 10:29 am
Agreed that “Lindeville” has a lot of powerful moments and impressive storytelling. But to be perfectly honest that refrain in “Strip Club” makes me cringe. “Jesus loves the drunkards and the whores and the queers” is the same basic idea you’ll get from even the most virulent homophobes, i.e. “Jesus loves sinners but hates your sin”. Lumping in “queers” with “whores” and “drunkards” is uh… not quite as progressive a sentiment as it maybe thinks it is. :/ (I mean you could make the stretch argument that ‘whore’ has been neutralized as a term by people who don’t take any moral issue with sex work, but alcoholism seems pretty universally a negative thing, so…)
Anyway, love Ashley McBryde but actually enjoyed her last albums more than this bolder concept album. Mainly I didn’t love the contributions of the male vocalists who are on about half the tracks. The title track that closes is absolutely gorgeous though. Maybe a 78/100 for me.
September 30, 2022 @ 4:06 pm
She is such an amazing female talent in Nashville. If anyone has ever had the opportunity to Ashley sing live, it is an experience the plays knock knock with your soul. I think her duet with Carly Pearce is one of the best songs that went to radio this year. I want to see Ashley be as appreciated my mainstream fans as much as critics and her die-hard fans.
September 30, 2022 @ 4:52 pm
Another thing, Osborne does a great job on production on here and it would be great to see more of this style venture into the Osborne Brothers.
September 30, 2022 @ 6:58 pm
I can see this being Album of the Year without even squinting.
October 1, 2022 @ 4:23 am
I don’t claim to be an expert on country music, but to my ears this album is an instant classic. The whole album is a joy from start to finish. My favourite song song so far is “Gospel Night At The Strip Club”.
October 1, 2022 @ 3:37 am
Nice… Dennis Linde…. Burning Love… Elvis. Sold.
Country Charley Crockett's Butter
October 1, 2022 @ 6:30 am
Mainstream album of the year!!
Honorable Mentions are Lambert, Pardi.
Country Charley Crockett's Butter
October 1, 2022 @ 6:32 am
Speaking of new albums – im quite intrigued about Trigs thoughts on Kelsea Ballerinis new album…. Cause it’s kinda good & country-ish.
October 1, 2022 @ 7:46 am
A few observations on the second day listen. I think the key points in the review are that this is a collaboration, particularly with Brandy Clark, and an album where everything fits together in a way that the more pedestrian material is buoyed by its thematic connection to the stronger material. In that, it struck me this morning watching the “Bonfire At Tina’s” video that the project as a whole seems like a snarky, white trash response to “The Highwomen.” (Is that the same Nashville area field the Highwomen used?) I don’t mean that I think they wanted to make fun of it but that they are trying to explore similar and parallel themes in a less pretentious and more humorous manner I think I have a different idea of what the stronger and weaker material is. The sillier stuff seemed stronger than most of the more serious stuff to me. “Brenda Put Your Bra On” is a strong opener that’s reminiscent of “Shotgun Willie” in that it more or less announces what the album is going to be about along with the important fact that it’s not going to take itself too seriously. For me, the first two tracks were quirky, funny, and original enough that when they went to more typically mainstream stuff it didn’t get boring, preachy, or otherwise tedious.
I may change my mind about what’s strongest as I listen more but I doubt that this album would have pulled me in the way it did with a more staid opener.
October 1, 2022 @ 8:35 am
The last sentence of your article needs a colon and just a couple more words: Outlaw shit.
October 1, 2022 @ 9:44 am
REALLY enjoyed the whole album, some mighty fine tunes on there.
I just wish there was fewer *bad* words along the way. I know it likely suits the characters and stories but that will severely limit radio airplay. Bonfire At Tina’s has a very strong melody but a simple ‘shit’ near the end messes it up.
October 1, 2022 @ 10:51 pm
Radio wouldn’t play most of these anyway, bad words or not
October 1, 2022 @ 9:51 am
I am a fan of Ashley McBryde and love her previous albums but was not sure I would enjoy this. Read your review and took a chance. Glad I did. Superb. Once of the standout albums of 2022.
October 1, 2022 @ 12:15 pm
I spent extra time on this one due to the review. Listened to it completely while reading the lyrics on another website, and also Dennis Linde’s Wikipedia entry. I’ve never listened to a complete Ashley McBryde album before. Have to say I was very impressed and really enjoyed it.
October 1, 2022 @ 4:07 pm
Never heard of AM until my (and her debut) first time at the opry. Was there with my daughters just reaching adulthood and Girl Goin’ Nowhere blew us away. Nothing better than someone who knows where she is going and plans for it! Enjoyed Lindeville and want more albums like that.
October 2, 2022 @ 6:41 am
Live and the Opry version no doubt “girl going nowhere” is my favorite song of hers. Via album though “the jacket” is my favorite. I’ve yet to pick this new one up but I will this week. Been my favorite for years for females since I heard “bible and a .44” with Eric church.
October 2, 2022 @ 10:22 am
I’m not sure if it was her first appearance at the Opry, but did she sing the song Whiskey and Country Music? I saw her sing that on TV last year, and have been looking for a place to buy it ever since. I’m not very familiar with her music, but that song seems like a no brainer to include on an album.
October 1, 2022 @ 10:27 pm
Enjoyed the album, just needed more Ashley Mcbryde. I hope her song interludes on the album have complete versions that will be unearthed someday.
October 16, 2022 @ 10:08 pm
I actually may have some helpful info here! I also love that song and the only recorded version I can find is from a 2021 opry appearance on YouTube. However, I saw her play it in March of this year and just last week at a private show. She mentioned last week that it will be on her new album in the spring. Based on a few songs she played that haven’t been released yet, that I can tell you that album is going to be something special.
October 1, 2022 @ 10:43 pm
I was spending Saturday night helping some friends with a remodel and we were all in separate corners of the house, me in headphones. I put this album on. My friends came running because apparently I started shriekng OH MY GOD!!! and they thought something had happened. No, it’s just an amazing album.
Im a sucker for concept albums but these songs are also just great little vignettes on their own too. The very NSFW first song is hysterical, the Gospel Night At The Strip Club one manages to cram an entire universe into one guy’s experience, the Stars one ties it all together. It’s just glorious. Reminds me of Marty Stuart’s The Pilgrim or any number of early Tom Waits songs in how it paints a picture.
Also, nice nod to the Lindeverse of Queen Of My Double-wide Trailer/Goodbye Earl/Bubba Shot The Jukebox etc.
BJ Barham of American Aquarium did a great interview on Bubba Shot The Podcast, a comedy podcast where they explored 90’s country songs, and in his episode they went deep into the Lindeverse and what American Aquarium learned while making their 90’s covers albums.
Lindeville isn’t set in the same universe as Dennis Linde”s hits, but it has the same kind od cohesiveness as his set od aongs did.
October 2, 2022 @ 4:25 pm
So “Gospel Night” is the consensus favorite here, and it seems to be written and sung by Benjy Davis. I checked out one of his albums and it sounded more adult contemporary. Curious if he had been on Trigger or anyone else’s radar
October 5, 2022 @ 6:47 pm
Benjy Davis also produced William Clark Green’s “Hebert Island”.
October 3, 2022 @ 7:22 am
I’m an Ash fan through and through. I play all five albums (two self released), now six, on a near daily basis; throw in her duets and covers and its a great day.
Lindeville is a fantastic amalgamation of characters and I truly hope these artists come back to visit the town at least once. Maybe twice. And maybe with some new characters, I have several artists I can easily see joining such a project.
As far as songs, The Girl In The Picture and Lindeville are by far my favorite. The commercial jingles give some fun breaks within the album while rounding out the feel of the town. I certainly hope this will give major labels the want to allow artists to start releasing passion projects more often.
October 3, 2022 @ 10:06 am
I had to go revisit the story of Livin Next To Leroy after this album. Also a great song.
October 3, 2022 @ 1:37 pm
Following the character stories on this album was a lot of fun. Caroline’s storyline made me sad for Leroy.
October 3, 2022 @ 4:46 pm
Damn this is GOOD! Super stoked Aaron Raitiere is all over this, they are a great duet pair.
Gotta say I think it’s better than 8/10
October 7, 2022 @ 7:44 pm
BRA ON, BRA ON
North Woods Country
October 8, 2022 @ 8:03 am
I like the album. It’s fun and there are some great songs on it. It’s also crude and vulgar in both good and bad ways. In some cases, it’s fitting and natural. In other cases, it’s only for the sake of it. “Jesus Jenny” could be cut and this record would add another point for me. I love the jingles–they’re so clever and nostalgic. The Ashley led songs are the highlights for me.