From a singer-songwriter who built her career and hard truths and relentless authenticity, Ashley McBryde's The Devil I Know album is her most self-assured, honest project yet.

There's the tender mother's wisdom of "Light on in the Kitchen," a track that conveys the unconditional support of familial love with tender reminders like, "Your freckles make you pretty / There's more to life than being skinny."

But not every lesson McBryde relays on this album is one she learned gently. "Learned to Lie" traces her pattern of getting entangled in dishonest relationships back to her unhappy childhood, when her dad often missed family dinner while he was "workin' late fogging up the windows of an '89 Sable."

Her passion for the country genre and her career in it has always been built into her songwriting — McBryde's breakout hit, 2018's "Girl Goin' Nowhere," tells her story of chasing a dream that few people in her life thought she'd ever achieve — and the triumphs and heartbreaks of a life in the music business are well-represented on the tracklist of The Devil I Know. "Cool Little Bars," "Whiskey and Country Music" and "Made for This," and the title track of the album, all represent different sides of McBryde's longest-running, truest love: Country music.

The true-blue country traditionalism of "Whiskey and Country Music" sits side by side with the rock guitars of "Blackout Betty" on this project, and that's just one of the many contrasts that appear on The Devil I Know. McBryde both rises above her demons and embraces them; she romanticizes life on the road in one verse, then wishes for just one more day home with her mama in the next.

If there's one thing the country star — and the hard-living road dogs like her — have learned, it's that honesty is often self-contradictory. She's gotten comfortable presenting all sides of herself, even if those sides don't always get along with each other. You'll find all of McBryde's selves here, and you'll find them on the cover art of The Devil I Know, too: Five different versions of the singer, dressed differently and in different life stages and modes, stand side-by-side on the album cover. All of them are true to who she is.

The Devil I Know, out Friday (Sept. 8), is McBryde's fourth studio album. It follows Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville, a collaborations-heavy concept project that spotlights an array of characters living in the fictional town of Lindeville.

Next up, McBryde will take her new project on the road, mounting a headlining The Devil I Know Tour in winter 2023.


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