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"GIRL," UNINTERRUPTED
1/17/19

By Holly Gleason

In a world where country radio had a week with no woman on the charts, Maren Morris’ “GIRL” drops as a siren song and a cry of truth for anyone engulfed in the tacit messaging their voice doesn’t matter. With a sinewy electric guitar that defies genre, Morris’ whispery vocal sweeps in with a hint of angst, a touch of disorientation and a whole lot of confessional inner-voice vulnerability.

If this seems like muscular Joni Mitchell with modern production, it’s not. There’s tension strung between those electric guitar notes, the sweeping beat and Morris’ revelatory “I don’t like myself right now.” That’s when Morris’ higher truth kicks in: acknowledging life conspires to inspire self-loathing, she commands, “Pick yourself up off the kitchen floor/Whatchu waiting for?”

In classic Morris take-charge mode, she pivots and elevates. The “My Church” singer digs in and lifts, sweeping aside the brokered “who you’re supposed to be” ethos used to sell women insecurity; but in this baller world, the reality’s more far-reaching. That inculcated sense of “less-than” affects every scrawny kid, not-quite-out LGBTQ person, non-baller male, heavy-set or sensitive soul—and anyone else unsure of their place in the world.

Like Ariana Grande, Morris empowers and emboldens with her strength. Unafraid to acknowledge the stumbles and built-in trip wires, she’s more concerned—as the chorus builds like the singer’s own reserve—with the self-comfort required: “Girl, won’t you stop your crying/I know that you’re trying/Everything’s gonna be okay,” as well as the “note to self” we all need: “Don’t you hang your head low/Don’t you lose your halo…”

The groove is almost erotic; the side-to-side slink pulls listeners in. Then the lyric wraps itself around you. If the first verse skewers (“If vanity’s my vitamin/I don’t feel the difference”), the second is a direct hit on the trap of comparisons and competition. In a world where there’s always a faster gun, Morris’ fortified-brandy voice takes on a wide-open gospel tone to exhort, “Draw your comparisons, trying to find who’s lesser than/I don’t wanna wear your crown, there’s enough to go around.”

Not quite Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet, this note to self reflects all of us. By the time Morris vamps and ruminates on the second half of the chorus across the turnaround, the track moves from a hush to a full “Up With People” moment that’s pure euphoria. Celebrating the same snowflake notion that everyone is beautiful that's been central to P!nkAlicia Keys, Janelle Monáe and Christina Aguilera’s potency, the Texas-born songstress transcends genres with a statement that unifies.

Just listen.