Quantcast
Advertisement
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)

NEAR TRUTHS:
THE CAKE AND
THE CANDLES
Marketshare machers. (10/27a)
KENDRICK INKS WITH UMPG
Lamar enters the House of Jody. (10/27a)
YTD MARKETSHARE: AND THE WINNER IS...
It's a lock. (10/27a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, PART 8,761: SURGERY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Planning for an Election Day hopped up on painkillers. (10/27a)
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Vote. Do it now. (10/27a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
Music City
ACM PREVIEW: MAREN MORRIS
3/2/20

When Maren Morris took the stage at the CMA Awards last fall to pick up the coveted Album of the Year Award for GIRL, her 2019 sophomore LP (on Columbia Nashville), she couldn’t have known that the roll she was on would power her into 2020. Four months after the CMAs, the album yielded its second #1 at Country radio, as “The Bones” topped the chart for two weeks, making the petite Texan the first solo female artist to accomplish that feat since Carrie Underwood with “Blown Away” back in 2012. “The Bones” is now crossing.

At a time when women are having a historically hard time hitting terrestrial Country radio’s power rotations, Morris broke through last year with GIRL’s title track; she was the only solo female to have a #1 at the format in 2019. Just as importantly, the 29-year-old artist, who was nominated for four Grammys in 2017, including Best Solo Country Performance for “My Church,” and five in 2019, including Record and Pop Duo/Group Performance for “The Middle” with Zedd and Grey and Country Duo/Group Performance for “Dear Hate” with Vince Gill, possesses a versatility that makes her a musical Swiss Army knife.

Morris’ boldness matches her talent. As they crafted GIRL, the smoky-voiced singer’s singer and her gifted primary collaborator, busbee—who died of brain cancer last September at the age of 43—eschewed doing the obvious, pushing the possibilities of the soul/country/roots/message style they’d begun with her platinum 2016 debut album, HERO. She then insisted on releasing the album on International Women’s Day—3/8/19—despite the fact that lead single “GIRL” wouldn’t peak for five more months.

The album boasts songs about female empowerment (“Make Out With Me,” “Flavor,”), notes to self for bad days (“GIRL,” “A Song for Everything”), greater good (“Common”) and the unfurling of postmodern love (“Great Ones,” “The Feels,” “Gold,” the California sunshine-feeling chart-topper “The Bones”).

In a world of micro-moment news cycles, cortisol slamming, name-calling and a de rigueur narcissism, Morris exhaled slowly and created an unlikely album of big hooks, diverse arrangements and a better, more vulnerable take on being 20-something while trying to make sense of the world without losing hope.

On top of all that, Morris somehow found the time to record duets with awards favorites Brothers Osborne and Brandi Carlile.

Significantly, the Music Row star member of The Highwomen—a supergroup made up of Americana songwriter/queen Carlile, Lone Star fiddler/alt songwriter Amanda Shires and hit songwriter/artist Natalie Hemby, whose 2019 debut album also includes drop-ins from Sheryl Crow, Yola and Jason Isbell—has given mainstream country the kind of genre-transcending reach not seen since Shania Twain or Dixie Chicks drew up their musical playbooks.

Whether you’re catching her exuding positivity at Bonnaroo, doing a Newport Folk Festival Highwomen set with Dolly Parton, headlining at NYC’s Governor’s Ball under Missy Elliott, Solange and H.E.R. or her own full-tilt star turn at the coveted Houston Rodeo + Livestock Show, Morris’ soul-country pulls people together in a way that it doesn’t matter what you call it. People listen, feel, respond.

 And one of the things that goes without saying in this new world where “albums don’t matter” is that a few of them still speak longform truth, enabling people to better understand their lives. When the dust settles, GIRL may just be one of those records that people are still listening to 20 years from now, as they look back on their coming-of-age selves.

Based on the people showing up at Morris’ concerts, buying her merch and asking for her to co-headline events like Lexington’s roots-based, all-genre Railbird Festival with Isbell, this isn’t just about hits. By not making it a battle against men but more a space for women to speak truth about what they want instead of what they put up with, Morris created a forcefield that’s undeniable. All you have to do is listen.