Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ashley McBryde: Never Will [Warner Music Nashville, 2020]
Wish she'd pared down the production here: Nashville rock at its bigged-up schlockiest, with McBryde belting to match. But the songwriting is so sharp it gives her the right to belt: lyrically not one of the 11 tracks is merely passable, and McBryde has writer's credit on all but two. Of those I naturally prefer "Shut Up Sheila" and its "Why don't you and Jesus take a walk down the hallway?" to the ecologically regrettable if musically unforgettable "Styrofoam." But every compact tale engages: mayor's daughter knocked up on bootleg wine, Biblical rationale for offing your daddy's girlfriend, the neatly dubbed "One Night Standards," missing your daughter while "living the dream" on Jack-and-Coke and a sleeping pill, and there are more. A-