After last week’s slight shortage of new releases, we’re back to having a bumper crop of new country songs to consider for EF Country’s Song of the Week. With new music from Kalie Shorr, Caylee Hammack, Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, Olivia Lane, Two Ways Home and Tim McGraw among others, plus the UK release of rising star Ingrid Andress’ song Lady Like, there was certainly
But when it came down to it, there was only one real contender: One Night Standards, the brand new track from EF Country favourite Ashley McBryde. This is her first new music since she released her debut album, Girl Going Nowhere – which made our Top 10 of 2018 – 18 months ago, and I was keen to see if she’d picked up where she left off.
Take a listen to the song here:
As the title suggests, One Night Standards, which McBryde wrote with Nicolette Hayford and Shane McAnally, tells the story of a woman who doesn’t want her affair to progress to anything beyond nights in hotel rooms. Melodically it’s similar to American Scandal from McBryde’s first record, with a steady drumbeat building into wailing, classic rock-style guitars and then dropping away again, matching the emotional cadence of the song.
However, for me the main strength of the track is the lyrics, which are full of frankness as well as details. The chorus in particular brings out the starkness of the situation McBryde’s character finds herself in, with its focus on reducing the situation to a key and a room; as she herself says, ‘there’s no king bed covered in roses’ here. There are some fantastic lines on the second verse too – ‘Truth is lonely makes a heart ruthless’ is a standout – and I love the twist at the end. It’s a pragmatic, humanising approach that makes it very easy to sympathise with the character she’s portraying, and makes the song even powerful.
McBryde’s distinctive vocals are also one of the track’s high points. She starts off with a very measured delivery before picking up in the chorus and towards the end, bringing out the rasp and belt in her voice. In the hands of another artist, this could have been hugely overblown, but McBryde’s approach gives the song considerably more emotional clout. ‘I ain’t Cinderella but who is?’ she sings, the resignation in her voice palpable as it tugs at the heartstrings and brings out the sense that her character isn’t entirely telling the truth about how she feels.
Overall One Night Standards is a strong track which follows on from Girl Going Nowhere by playing to McBryde’s strengths – a rocky melody, intelligent songwriting and emotional performance – as well as giving us a glimpse into what her second album might have in store. She’s definitely continuing to grow into her sound and her style whilst firmly carving out her identity as a great storyteller with this song, and I can’t wait to hear it live when she comes back to the UK next month.