Ashley McBryde made her The Ellen DeGeneres Show debut on Wednesday, Jan. 13, performing her latest single, "Martha Divine." The singer and her band set up on a stage backed by a large screen that switched between images of a neon "Motel" sign and a winding road at night, two images that are crucial to the song's Southern gothic story.
"Martha Divine" is an upbeat apparent murder ballad about a woman who seemingly kills her father's mistress, and its music video, set at a motel, depicts the story. McBryde wrote the song with Jeremy Spillman and told American Songwriter that she got the idea after Spillman told her about a local legend, the Martha Divine swimming hole.
"I said, 'You know what, I love the way divine sounds,'" she recalled. "'That’s fun to sing, so we should just make up a story and we could do a sort of Jolene thing. Instead of singing ‘Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, please don’t take my man.’ What if we said, ‘Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, I’m coming after you with a shovel.'"
"Most of the time, the perspective is going to be from the person doing the cheating and they’re tortured about it, or it’s the person being cheated on and they’re devastated and angry," the singer continued. "But what if we write from the daughter’s perspective? Not only is it the daughter, but she’s a little bit crazy. And she’s a little bit Bible-beating and protective of her mother."
"Martha Divine" is the second single from McBryde's album Never Will, which was released in April 2020. The album was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2020 CMA Awards and is nominated at the 2021 Grammy Awards for Best Country Album, and its lead single, "One Night Standards," gave McBryde her biggest commercial success yet.
"When we released Never Will, we kept our original April 2020 release date because people needed music then and we need music now!" the Arkansas native shared in a statement. "However, there was a small part of me that was a little sad that these songs may not get the time or attention they deserve as a body of work because of that timing. So to have the album receive so much recognition, along with nominations among such incredible company by both the CMA Awards and by The Recording Academy, is truly amazing and means the absolute world to me."