Show Reviews

Show Review: Taylon Hope, Mallory Johnson, Rachel LaRen, Nora Collins, Maura Streppa, and more!



Ft. Taylon Hope, Mallory Johnson, Rachel LaRen, Nora Collins, Maura Streppa, and more!

Thursday July 21, 2022

@ Assembly Food Hall in Nashville, TN

(Review by: Jeffrey Kurtis)

Hands down, the place to be for the strongest songwriter rounds on Thursday nights in Nashville is in front of the South Hall stage at Assembly Food Hall inside the Fifth + Broadway complex thanks to The Nash News and their weekly series ‘The Nash News Presents…”

Some of the great artists/writers who have already graced their popular rounds over the past few months include Dean Brody, Whitney Duncan, Jade Eagleson, Raleigh Keegan , Jonathan Singleton, The Reklaws, and many more!

However, one of their most popular themed nights is their ‘Girls Night Out’ songwriter round that delivers an all-female cast of some of the strongest that Nashville has to offer. Karissa Ella, Ava Paige, Bri Fletcher, MaRynn Taylor, Royale Lynne, and many more have already been part of these rounds this year, and continuing with the tradition, they welcomed three more incredible rounds of female talent to the stage this week for the fifth installment of ‘Girls Night Out.’

As the early arriving crowd of music aficionados, fellow songwriters, and passerby’s who stopped in for a bite to eat and stayed for the music got settled in, Lake Bluff, IL native Maura Streppa kicked into the opening round with “Yee Haw,” during which she immediately warmed up the crowd’s voices when she enticed them to sing along with her.

As the hour-long round cycled through each writer, Streppa continued to bring catchy upbeat songs to the mix, staying mostly bent on the fun side to keep the crowd invested with strong audience participation on “Honky Talk,” while getting them laughing along with the tongue and cheek, play on words cleverness of her closing song “Line Dance,” all while allowing the perfect amounts of room for her signature growl-like, raspy snarl to push her vocal range to powerful heights that left the crowd stunned.

FULL SET LIST (Maura Streppa)

1) Yee Haw

2) Friendship Bracelet

3) Honky Talk

4) Line Dance

Mignon opened her set with “Never Not,” instantly capturing the crowd’s attention with the control of her vocals on a song which is becoming a cornerstone to any of her performances during writer rounds like this.

“I Got You” then saw Mignon focusing lyrically on the transparent feelings of the emotional moments right before she got married, while “Ghost Town,” another which is becoming a major piece of any Mignon performance, tugged on all the heartstrings that come in the aftermath of a breakup when everything in town now reminds you of the person you lost.

“Sometimes when we’re doing the whole Nashville songwriting thing, you get caught up in writing breakup songs, cheating songs, and drinking songs,” confessed Mignon as she spoke directly to the many songwriters in the crowd. “But every once in a while you’ve got to come back to why you love doing this and why you want to do this,” she lamented as she closed her set with “Story of my Heart.”


1) Never Not

2) I Got You

3) Ghost Town

4) Story of my Heart

There’s no doubt about it, that singer-songwriters who are moving to town from North of our border are making major impact on the writing community here in Nashville by bringing a fresh, Canadian country vibe to the Nashville sound, tweaking it just enough to make the familiar, differently unique.

“When you lose somebody, you don’t realize how much more than just that person you lose,” told Jaclyn Kenyon as she lamented on not only losing an ex during a breakup but also the coffee shop that they used to hang out at, the group of friends they both shared, and in the case of her opening song “Your Mom,” the relationship she had with his family.

Sticking with breakups in a sense, she sang of then moving into a new relationship with the pieces of the broken heart you were left with on “The Pieces,” talked transparently about trying to measure up to a standard that a superficial world has made impossible on “Pretty Girl Complex,” and closed the entire round with the electrifying “Shame On You,” a song about falling for the manipulation of the wrong guy, which allowed Kenyon to showcase her very solid vocals while offering a taste of things to come from her new EP due out this fall.

FULL SET LIST (Jaclyn Kenyon)

1) Your Mom

2) The Pieces

3) Pretty Girl Complex

4) Shame On You

After such a great opening round of music that showcased each unique talent behind the songs, the second round then stepped up to the plate to accomplish a similar thing as each writer brought something a little different to the stage, allowing them to individually stand out within the realm of what they do best that makes them who they are.

Rachel LaRen, an East Texas songwriter who has called Nashville home for 3 years, is often described as whimsically western and proudly upheld that tag as she delivered songs mostly from her recently released Cowboys Don’t Change EP including “Darlin’,” one of her personal favorites “Cotton Candy Sky,” and her most recent single “John Wayne,” which she confessed before playing that “it’s only fitting to have a song about a cowboy since I’m from Gun Barrel City, TX.”

With such a solid showing of her most recent music, she also took a moment to bookend the present with a trip to the past when she pulled the audience to the edge of their seats for a closer listen to the thought-provoking, transparently honest “Jesus and Me,” the very first song she ever released.

FULL SET LIST (Rachel LaRen)

1) Darlin’

2) Cotton Candy Sky

3) Jesus and Me

4) John Wayne

Like Rachel LaRen before her, Brennley Brown, the California native who many recognize from her time on season 12 of The Voice, took us on a journey back to her very beginnings to open her set with the first song she wrote in Nashville, “Me To Be Me.”

Tilting into the tough task of forgiving someone by admitting that maybe the way you saw it in your side of an argument wasn’t the right way, she delivered “Remember It Wrong,” but it was her turns at delivering songwriter songs that truly solidified her place amongst the writing community.

Like opening a book into who she is and where she comes from, Brown invited us into her personal life through “Fifty Stars,” a song she wrote in the form of an open letter to the grandpa she never met that spoke to the influence he’s had on who she is today through what he instilled in her father that he then gave to her, while tugging hard on heartstrings with “When I Get To Heaven,” a healing song she wrote amid the struggles she faced two-years ago when she lost her cousin to addiction that found its inspiration when God not only reminded her of all the beautiful things the two of them had already done together on earth, but offered the promise of the even more beautiful things they’ll do in heaven when the time comes.

FULL SET LIST (Brennley Brown)

1) Me To Be Me

2) Remember It Wrong

3) Fifty Stars

4) When I Get To Heaven

When people think of country music meccas, the natural inclination is Nashville or Texas. However, Wisconsin has a very strong country music scene that’s blending into Music City’s very well, and for a perfect example of that look no further than Nora Collins. The Milwaukee native immediately offered positive modern country vibes over the crowd with her opening song “Keeping On,” which wrapped its lyrical focus of finding the silver lining around an ultra-catchy melody that kept feet tapping along.

The fun, upbeat, kiss-off song “Leroy” kept the ladies in the crowd chuckling along with the country blues, good-bye/good riddance lyric, while “Giving Up or Growing Up” reached into the hearts of the other songwriters in the crowd as it sang through the struggles someone faces while chasing the dream.

Lamenting that she moved from one drinking town to another, referencing her move to Nashville from Milwaukee, Collins closed her set by leaving a lasting impression on the crowd with the built for Top 40 radio sound of “Neon Healing,” a single she released back in 2020 right before the pandemic started.

FULL SET LIST (Nora Collins)

1) Keeping On

2) Leroy

3) Giving Up or Growing Up

4) Neon Healing

The 6 songwriters across the first two rounds had already lifted the fifth installment of Nash News’ ‘Girls Night Out’ to tremendous heights, but the 1-2 punch of Mallory Johnson and Taylon Hope to close the evening provided the final exclamation point to an amazing night.

“I’ve been here in Nashville for 5 years now,” began Mallory Johnson, a Canadian artist/songwriter who has recently just found herself of Billboard Canada’s chart and has also received CCMA award nomination this past week. “This first song is about if you could literally find love in a specific place; like if it had an address so you could know where it’s at and spare the heartbreak,” she introduced as she played “Suitcase” to open her set.

Referencing the movie Good Luck Chuck, a story about a guy who is always in the relationship with the girl right before she meets “the one,” Johnson shared, “that’s kinda of the story of my life, and so I wrote the girl version of it on this song,” as she played “Wedding Band,” a song in which every line was stronger than the one before it that saw Johnson perfectly tilting the emotions of her vocal to hold the audience so close to the edge of their seat in stunned silence that you could have heard a pin drop in the otherwise noisy food hall.

We mentioned earlier that Mallory had just landed on Billboard’s chart, and she gave the audience that song with the hilariously honest “Married,” which she said before playing of how she often fantasizes about wanting the wedding but not being married, before slyly confessing, “I wanted to write one for the singles…or maybe at least for those that shouldn’t have been married.”

One of the best parts of living in Nashville is being at shows like this one and never really knowing who from the music community is going to show up to support their friends. That was exactly the case when Mallory Johnson brought her friend Shantaia up to the stage from the audience to play her current single “Hung Over You.”

“It seems fitting to play this last song tonight,” Mallory said. “One night when we got together to write, we got to talking about being a woman in a male dominated industry and we came up with this song…it’s my girl empowerment song!” she finished as she closed with “Wise Woman,” the very powerful song that she performed with Twin Kennedy which has just been nominated for a CCMA Award in ‘Country Music Program or Special of the Year’ category.

FULL SET LIST (Mallory Johnson)

1) Suitcase

2) Wedding Band

3) Married

4) Hung Over You (Shantaia)

5) Wise Woman

Powerful! In one word that is the perfect description of 17-year-old Taylon Hope. Diving deeper than that, however, she presents an incredible vocal range that’s full of pure, unbridled power and a control level that takes years for most others to perfect and master the way that she has over the past 5 years of living in Nashville.

She opened her set with “All Over Again” and immediately put everything in motion, setting up what was to become an unforgettable night of WOW! moments, but it wasn’t until she slowed things down on “The Good Life” that she truly positioned herself to make a sudden impact on the crowd and put on a bold display of who she is and what she does.

In the shadow of the iconic Ryman Auditorium, Hope’s voice soared across the table conversations and turned everyone in the food hall’s attention toward the stage as she pulled us through a list like fashion of all the perfect descriptions of what the good life truly looks like, gripping the crowd in the palm of her hand while earning a rousing ovation as a smile spread across her face from cheek to cheek.

Though her ultra-catchy, upbeat current single “All the Night We Need” acted as the centerpiece of her 5-song set, a song which she said to have written as one that you could roll your windows down and listen to, Taylon Hope truly put on an inspiring display with her softer paced songs that allowed all the right room for her vocals to radiate the crowd.

“I have a new single coming out soon!” Hope enthusiastically shared. “It’s kind of about finding that one person to love and building a house with them…a life with them,” she mused as she painted perfect pictures with “Picket Fence,” before wrapping up her set with “Home For Me,” a song which before playing saw her reminiscing to when she had the honor of performing it on the Ryman stage that shined as this night’s backdrop; a moment she called one the best experiences of her life!

FULL SET LIST (Taylon Hope)

1) All Over Again

2) The Good Life

3) All The Night We Need

4) Picket Fence

5) Home For Me


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