When the line-up for CMC Rocks Qld was announced last month I was both surprised and delighted to see probably the most progressive female working in country music in Nashville currently in Ashley McBryde and the super-savvy songwriter performer Brandy Clark of whose work I am a committed fan. Country Update spoke to Ashley McBryde earlier this year and it was a great pleasure to catch up with Brandy Clark to introduce her to readers who may not be familiar with her work. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out online especially if you have tickets for CMC Rocks.
Have you visited Australia before?
“No! I have not but very sincerely, it is the one place I have always wanted to visit and it is my Mum’s number one destination as well – and I am bringing her with me. If I am honest, I never really thought I’d get to go there and to be able to bring my Mum is just such a buzz for me.”
What is on your wish list and will you have any time to sight-see or is it all work?
“Oh the Great Barrier Reef! But I am just overall enthralled with Australia and I will be overjoyed to see whatever I can. We have three shows at the CMC festival and a songwriters show, and by then I will have a new record in the can. It won’t be out yet – but will be soon after; in the second quarter next year.”
You have been in Nashville for over ten years now, since you went there to Belmont University?
“Yes, I do love my education but part of me wishes I didn’t have to repay all those student loans and I had so much invested in it. A lot of my friends were further up the ladder a lot younger than me and they had dropped out and I used to wonder if I was doing the right thing.”
I suspect college wasn’t the catalyst for your writing – you must have loved English and stories as a child for your writing to be so sharp?
“This interview is so good for my ego! Look I always loved storytelling and my grandmother was a stupendous story spinner – lots of my family never let the truth get in the way of a good story. I tell people I grew up at the feet of mountains when it comes to storytellers!
I wasn’t a big reader as a kid but the older I get the more I read.”
Your two albums are high points of country music in the last decade for me – ‘true grit’ (read ‘balls’) seems to emerge in epochs for females in country. You are like my To Be Continued songline… from the 80’s to now. The first one I can pinpoint with a real socio-political agenda (beyond the 60’s folk heroines of course) is Mary Chapin Carpenter but she was more big picture politics to your small town social dialogue I guess?
“I was hugely influenced by Mary Chapin Carpenter – C’mon C’mon is my go-to bible in studying songwriting. ‘He Thinks He’ll Keep Her’ – I was very young, but that song floored me and I just thought it was unattainably brilliant. And I loved her lighter side and how she interspersed the serious and the sweet to make both all the more pithy and instantly palatable, and never sounded like a lecture.”
…read the rest in Issue 91.