Album - Ashley McBryde - The Devil I Know
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‘Light On In The Kitchen’ by Ashley McBryde - Lyrics & Meaning

October 6, 2023 4:35 pm GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 6:50 pm GMT

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Ashley McBryde - ‘Light On In The Kitchen’

Label: Warner Music Nashville & Warner Chappell Music

Release Date: February 24th 2023

Album: The Devil I Know

Producer: Jay Joyce

Songwriters: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington & Ashley McBryde

Chart Performance:

  • No. 20 on Mediabase Country
  • No. 22 on Billboard Country Airplay
  • No. 45 on Billboard Hot Country Songs

Nominations:

  • Video of the Year at the 57th Annual CMA Awards

The Background:

Ashley McBryde has become one of the most respected and revered songwriters in the country format since her first single, 'A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega', made impact in 2017.

The tune, which can be found on her Grammy-nominated debut record, Girl Going Nowhere, marked her first foray into the mainstream. It was followed by her quintessential 'One Night Standards'; a song synonymous with McBryde's blossoming career and golden lyrical pen, her sophomore album, Never Will, arrived in 2020, racking up several nominations and accolades along the way.

With 2022, McBryde hit her stride as she was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry and scored big with her Grammy-award winning, chart-topping duet with Carly Pearce, 'Never Wanted to Be That Girl'. Later that year, she released her third album, an ensemble concept project titled Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville, which never produced a bonafide radio single but was nominated for Best Country Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.

When the calendar turned over to 2023, McBryde set her eyes on a new musical chapter – this time a return to her solo career.

At the end of February, the new era had officially been ushered in with the release of 'Light On In The Kitchen', which marked the first single from her forthcoming record, The Devil I Know. It made its impact at country radio on March 27 and, since then, has been steadily inching its way towards the top, and into the hearts of country music fans everywhere.

The lyrically-driven ballad is packed with wisdom that McBryde has been imparted with throughout the years. Going through various life lessons from a mother to their child, she showcases true country excellence in three and a half minutes.

Though McBryde has never scored a solo No. 1 at country radio – or even a top 10 (‘One Night Standards’ peaked at No. 11) – 'Light On In The Kitchen' is likely just the thing to propel the award-winning singer-songwriter into her rightful place as one of the biggest stars in the genre... and what a song to do it with.

The Sound:

Perhaps an unusual choice for a first single from a forthcoming project, the contemplative, guitar-soaked ballad is exactly what we've come to expect from McBryde: something that keeps you guessing.

The CMA and ACM-nominated Female Artist of the Year has built her career sitting on the fringes of country's mainstream, often towing the line between biker bar rockers and tender, guitar pickers. So far, McBryde has never compromised her art for the sake of appealing to whatever trend or fad is popular in country music at any given moment. Rather, she's stuck to her guns and bared her soul at every turn.

The same is true with 'Light On In The Kitchen', which McBryde wrote with fellow songwriters Jessi Alexander and Connie Harrington in June of 2020.

As they threw around random phrases and thoughts in the writer's room trying to land on their song idea for the day, Harrington put the title on the table. Striking a nerve with all three women, they started exploring the idea of why it seemed every woman they know leaves a light on in their kitchen.

Conjuring up warm, homely images through its lyrics, '...Kitchen' reads almost like a guide to life from a mother to their child.

In some ways reminiscent of Miranda Lambert's 'The House That Built Me' and other ways of Tim McGraw's 'Humble and Kind', the stirring song touches on weight, complexion, romance, race and inequality, while also peppering in some lighthearted moments as well, including how to avoid a runny nose and the best time of day to eat pancakes.

When it came time to take '...Kitchen' into the studio, McBryde tapped her longtime producer Jay Joyce to help bring the song to life.

Cutting it at Joyce's Neon Cross Studios in February 2022, the studio recording features all of McBryde's actual touring band, including electric guitarist Matt Helmkamp, mandolinist Chris Harris, bassist Chris Sancho and drummer Quinn Hill.

Rather than going for safe, radio-friendly sonic elements, Joyce decided to let McBryde's delicate vocal delivery take precedent, letting her sing over brushed drums and a handful of gentle acoustic and bluesy electric guitar picking. A soothing mandolin fills in the empty spaces, bringing a bluegrass element that also trades off lead riffs throughout the tune.

With minimal production from start to finish, the instrumentation perfectly complements the song's powerful prose, drawing listeners in as we hang onto every word.

The Meaning:

"Always check the door 'fore you lay down
Keep a glass of water by the bed
A dose of local honey
Will keep your nose from runnin'
Little things like that she's always said

Never back up farther than you have to
Pray for those that don't have a prayer"

The tune starts with a few pearls of wisdom, mostly pertaining to a healthy nighttime routine, like making sure the door is locked and that you have a nice glass of water in case you wake up parched. After that, McBryde shares something that sounds like an old wives tale about how to avoid a cold by enjoying some locally-sourced honey (we may have to try it).

The first stanza wraps by noting that it's these little tidbits that "she" has always said. While it isn't explicitly stated, we can intuit that McBryde is likely referring to her mother, although this is the only reference in the song to the person soliciting the advice found throughout.

Before we get to the chorus, McBryde offers a couplet of lyrics that serve as a bridge to some of the song's heavier moments to come.

Here, we get a scrumptious double-meaning line about not backing up too far whilst driving, but also about standing your ground and not giving too much in the way of your integrity. She also touches lightly on inequality, noting that you have to support the people who have no hope to spare.

"Honey, trust yourself
You better love yourself
'Cause 'til you do you ain't no good for anybody else
And honey, boys are dumb
But you're gonna to find you one
Love him hard, bless your heart
When you need someone to listen
That's why I leave the light on in the kitchen"

The chorus reads like a motherly pep talk, encouraging the listener to trust and love yourself, because until you can do that for yourself first, you can't do that for anyone else.

McBryde also addresses the qualms of romantic relationships by simply admitting that "boys are dumb". However, she echoes that all hope need't be lost because one day you'll find the right one, and when you do, you'll love him wholeheartedly.

The warm chorus ends with the promise that no matter where you are or what's going on, when you need someone to talk to or somewhere to go, there will always be a light on in the kitchen waiting for you.

Herein lies the crux of the evocative track. McBryde affirms us that, yes, life can be tough and often unfair, but you will always have someone in your corner who believes in you. There's always a seat waiting for you and you'll always have a place to go for comfort.

In other words, she basically gave us the biggest musical hug in recent memory.

"Pancakes just taste better after midnight
When you make friends always be color blind
Your freckles make you pretty
There's more to life than being skinny
If you feel fat, it's mostly in your mind"

The chorus delivered a massive "oof" moment, as McBryde calls it, so to lighten the mood again we switch gears to everyone's favorite cure-all: pancakes! The lightheartedness doesn't last too long, though, as she quickly yet gracefully makes reference to race and how it should never be a qualification or criterion for your relationships.

For the next three lines, McBryde zeroes in on struggles pertaining to body image.

Noting that your freckles don't make you weird, they make you pretty, and that looking a certain way should never be your crowning achievement, she also sums up something that we all need to hear sometimes: "it's mostly in your mind." As Big Sister Ashley reminds us, we're all our own greatest enemies and worst critics.

In just five lines, she sings about the importance of accepting oneself and one's flaws, embracing uniqueness and being kind, regardless of someone's race or body size.

"Honey, trust yourself
Laugh at yourself
If something tries to hold you back
Get up and give it hell
And for heaven's sake always have a place
Where you can do some cryin' and some bitchin'
And always leave a light on in the kitchen"

After going through the chorus once more, we arrive at the final section of the song, which features the same chorus with a few line changes.

Since we've already covered how you need to love yourself, your body and all the things that make you unique, McBryde now changes gears to remind us that sometimes you need to be able to laugh at yourself, too. After all, not everything is that serious.

In typical McBryde fashion, the next couplet brings with them a little bit of grit, as she encourages us to stand up for ourselves and not let anything hold us back. If anything ever does, like Big Sister Ashley says, "get up and give it hell." That's one hell of a pep talk, if you ask us.

McBryde pleads with us to find a place or a person where we're safe to feel our feelings and air out our grievances, and with tear-jerking sweetness she leaves us with one final bit of wisdom to apply in our own lives: "always leave a light on in the kitchen".

Without a single mention of cliché country staples like beer or trucks, this impressive display of country music mastery will endure well beyond 2023, as we keep some of these life lessons in our back pocket for years to come.

What has Ashley McBryde said about ‘Light On In The Kitchen’?

Through 'Light On In The Kitchen', McBryde unlocked something that often goes unnoticed and unexplained, namely the reason why we all leave one on in our own kitchens each night.

Noting the importance of that discovery and how impactful she found it to be, McBryde explained to Holler that the song was so precious to her that she feared it wasn't going to make it onto The Devil I Know record at all.

"You get these songs that you just treat so precious," she shares with Holler. "From writing to recording 'Light On In The Kitchen' was over a yearlong process and I'd been in love with it the whole time. I knew it was going to be the one that we sit down, listen back to everything and go 'That one doesn't belong. It's too tender, too soft.' However, not only did it stay on the record, but it became the lead single, which of course is the best life that a song can hope for".

Commenting on how the song came together in the writer's room, she added: "The way it felt once we got to the hook at the very end of the song, it was like 'Oh, God! All this time, that's why the light has been on in my kitchen!' We were just writing a sweet song of things that we had been told and that we would love to tell other young ladies and gentlemen. It was a little discovery and I love watching it happen on live audiences now, too," McBryde tells Holler. "The very first time that comes around in the song, you can see the crowd go, 'Oof,' in such a good way".

When McBryde announced the single's release in February 2023, she also explained that the meaning of a light in the kitchen has evolved since writing the song. She told the press: “When I tell someone there’s a ‘Light On In The Kitchen’ for them, to me it means you’re thinking of them, even if they’re not coming home that night”.

She continued, “While writing this, we were all able to look back and remember the women in our lives who comforted us, gave us advice and made sure we knew we had a place to go. Writing this song showed me how necessary that simple comfort had been... Knowing someone, somewhere is thinking of you in that way can get you through a lot".

For the full lyrics to Ashley McBryde’s ‘Light On In The Kitchen’, see below:

Always check the door 'fore you lay down
Keep a glass of water by the bed
A dose of local honey
Will keep your nose from runnin'
Little things like that she's always said

Never back up farther than you have to
Pray for those that don't have a prayer

Honey, trust yourself
You better love yourself
'Cause 'til you do you ain't no good for anybody else
And honey, boys are dumb
But you're gonna to find you one
Love him hard, bless your heart
When you need someone to listen
That's why I leave the light on in the kitchen

Pancakes just taste better after midnight
When you make friends always be color blind
Your freckles make you pretty
There's more to life than being skinny
If you feel fat, it's mostly in your mind

So Honey, trust yourself
You better love yourself
'Cause 'til you do you ain't no good to anybody else
Honey, boys are dumb
But you're gonna to find you one
Love him hard, bless your heart
When you need someone to listen
That's why I leave the light on in the kitchen

Honey, trust yourself
Laugh at yourself
If something tries to hold you back
Get up and give it hell
And for heaven's sake always have a place
Where you can do some cryin' and some bitchin'
And always leave a light on in the kitchen

For more on Ashley McBryde, see below:

Written by Lydia Farthing
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