After three self-released albums, Maren Morris signed to Columbia Nashville (part of Sony Music) to release her 2016 major label debut Hero. Hitting the number one spot on the US Country Chart, Hero spawned the huge hits My Church, 80s Mercedes, Rich and Morris’ first number one single I Could Use a Love Song. In 2018 Morris pushed the boundaries of what is expected of a Country artist, especially a female one, by teamed up with Zedd and Grey for the pop smash The Middle. In November Morris was in the UK for a one-off acoustic show where she teased that her new album was almost ready and within weeks the title track Girl had debuted.
An empowering anthem, and a timely reminder of the prejudice and struggle that so many women continue to face, Girl has galvanised Morris’ fanbase and it’s impacted on the charts too. Detractors have tried to say that the song isn’t Country enough even though there’s no doubting Morris’ Country credentials. Drawing inspiration from The Middle, Morris refuses to be pigeon-holed with new album Girl and she’s pushing boundaries throughout the record, which will likely cause more than a few moans from Country traditionalists.
Girl is Maren Morris’ Golden Hour. Just as Kacey Musgraves pushed boundaries and followed her instinct, Morris has done the same here. This is a record that’s bold and rich in variety with an important theme about self-worth and self-belief at its heart. She addresses her critics on the crunchy Flavor where she defiantly states her intent to do what she wants telling the listener, ‘just gonna do me and you don’t have to listen, if you don’t like the heat then get out of the kitchen’. He also references the Dixie Chicks controversy of yesteryear with the lyric ‘shut up and sing, well hell no I won’t’. It builds on the feisty, plain-spoken tracks from Hero such as Rich and it’s catchy as hell.
That feeling of forging your own path is evident on Common featuring Brandi Carlile. Morris shares her frustration at being told that ‘it’s just how it is’ and she fights back against a system that prioritises men over women. Carlile’s experience shines through in her voice, adding an emotive layer to a song that is sure to strike a chord with fans. There’s also a fair amount of introspection such as on the standout To Hell & Back, which Morris performed at Omeara in London last year. The track acknowledges being flawed and celebrating finding someone who loves you regardless.
Elsewhere on the record The Feels leans into the poppier side of Morris’ influences for a joyous love anthem, Make Out With Me adds a soulful groove to a yearning lyric, and RSVP fully embraces a dreamy R&B beat. The gorgeous The Bones, one of the tracks released prior to the album’s arrival, celebrates strength and Golden Love is driven by hand claps and beats as Morris takes her voices to places we’ve not heard before.
Standouts on the album include the Brothers Osborne featuring All My Favorite People, which is the perfect combination of both artists’ styles. Brothers Osborne bringing a grungier rock edge, while Morris gives it a more radio-friendly commercial appeal. Album closer Shade is a seriously good power ballad that ranks among the finest songs that Morris has ever recorded. She also sings the hell out of it.
Girl is the perfect follow-up to Hero. It builds on that album’s foundations and sees Morris very much forging her own path. The songs are strong, with no filler may I add, and Morris further cements herself as a role model for her fans. Girl is musically ambitious, it pushes the boundaries of modern Country music, and its lyrics are deeply personal yet always relatable. This album is set to take Morris up to the next level.
Track list: 1. Girl 2. The Feels 3. All My Favorite People (feat. Brothers Osborne) 4. A Song For Everything 5. Common (feat. Brandi Carlile) 6. Flavor 7. Make Out With Me 8. Gold Love 9. Great Ones 10. RSVP 11. To Hell and Back 12. The Bones 13. Good Woman 14. Shade Released by: Sony Music Release date: 8th March 2019 Buy Girl