“GIRL:” Maren Morris album review

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“GIRL:” Maren Morris album review

Lucie Bernheim, Features Editor

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I’m the first to praise the Nashville music scene. Especially when it’s a female artist, since they’re so underrepresented. After listening to Maren Morris’ new album, “GIRL”, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t experiencing slight disappointment.

Fans and critics alike have been patiently waiting for her sophomore effort ever since the success of her debut album, “Hero.” She experienced success with country radio with songs like “My Church” and “Rich.” She fused pop, R&B, country and alternative rock into one genre while showcasing her Texan roots.

The lead single and title track, “GIRL” set a great tone for the record. The lyrics were empowering, the production pristine, and the vocals were there. Her duet with friend and fellow singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile is straight out of Triple A radio in the best way, and “The Bones” showcases that songwriting that fans know and love.

It’s no surprise that “GIRL” is pop-forward because of her previous collaboration with Zedd, lending her vocals for “The Middle,” and there’s the ever-growing “pop-country” trend followed by the likes of Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood. But for Morris, it feels out of place on quite a few songs. There’s nothing wrong with the infusion of mainstream pop in country – it’s just that it’s not her craft. Morris has always been able to step outside that box, and on this album, for the most part, she failed.

Standouts on the record are the title track, as well as the trashy-but-in-a-good way jam with Brothers Osborne “All My Favorite People Do,” “The Bones,” a true pop-country song about how all that matters in a relationship is if the foundation is strong. And then there’s “To Hell & Back” a love song about finding your person and not having to change for said person. It’s this records “Bummin’ Cigarettes,” a cut off “Hero,” except this time she “quits bummin’ cigarettes to the wrong guy.”

“A Song For Everything” is the attempt to reel past fans back in. Imagine “My Church” meets “I Could Use A Love Song,” two “Hero” cuts that showcase her originality, except this time around, it’s not as well executed. There’s something predictable and overly songwritery about it. It’s not to say that it’s not good- it’s truthfully one of the better songs on the album.

“Make Out With Me” is a good bridge between what Morris’ vibe was and has become. It’s got the solid country songwriting and harmonies, r&b production and pop vocal that she combines so well. It’s written like she’s leaving a voicemail, and it’s clever but still familiar.

It’s not that “GIRL” is bad. It’s a solid piece of work. But it lacks the same grit and cohesiveness “Hero” has. Morris has the platform, like fellow artist Kacey Musgraves to step outside the picket fence and make something that changes country music, not follow it. Morris took a leap creatively with this album, but went backwards in terms of achieving something different. All that being said, this might be the album that officially launches her into the mainstream world, giving her the star power she is destined to find.

Grade: B