Music Sunday: Thoughts On Cardi B’s and Ashley McBryde’s New Albums

Who doesn’t like an underdog? Who doesn’t like the person who overcomes adversity?

If you appreciate grit, there are two fairly recent new releases that deserve your attention: Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” and Ashley McBryde’s “Girl Going Nowhere.”

Cardi wears it all on her sleeve (or just above the ice on her wrist at least). She’s probably using a ghostwriter, yet she’s publicly discussed working extra hard to improve her own abilities. She’s having a kid at the peak of her breakout (women at work ideologues take note of how she handles the fall tour, she’s due this summer I believe). She knows how to crack a joke and just be a regular human. She didn’t surround herself with a team of multi-media masterminds by accident either; between her music, her socials, her reality TV, her late night TV, her… she’s covering all of the bases like a seasoned pro, not a newcomer just figuring this all out on the fly. If she can keep pace, she’s going to be around for a long time.

We can say much of the same for Ashley McBryde. She faced off against the Nashville machine who said she wasn’t what they were looking for. The title track harnesses the victory sentiment with, “not bad for a girl goin’ nowhere.” She’s got swagger and attitude with a relatable sensibility that speaks to outsiders. When her high school reunion organizers asked her to write a song for their next gathering, she penned a song with the lyrics, “you got fat, and I got famous.” Again, humor, organization, a big picture awareness, there’s lots to admire here.

Both albums work within their respective genres (rap and country respectively), while exploring female perspectives and non-mainstream territory. Cardi has become the foil to misogynistic male rappers in a new way (see “Bickenhead”) while Ashley is challenging new ways to tell regular life stories (the great country tradition, see “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega”).

In one sense, you have to stay within the lines of your genre. I’m another sense, the boundaries have to be expanded if you want to stay relevant. You can’t just revisit the paths of others.

Where both artists may struggle, is answering “what next?” They’re both on top now, so the initial climb from obscurity is over. How will they make the next step equally relatable? Time will tell, but both have left multiple paths and options open for themselves.

Cardi and Ashley are doing something special. Even if every song doesn’t speak to you, they deserve a critical listen.