Morris plays country pop and it’s hard to criticise this album as, within its genre, it’s flawless. As carefully aimed at various demographics as Ed Sheeran, mind.
Morris made her name three years ago with her major-label debut, Hero, which sold by the Ford F-150 load. She comes from Texas but has moved to Nashville, obviously, and she’s got a smooth voice and sharp tongue (the second word on the album is s**t). We guess she’s now ready for world domination, as the songs on here are ruthlessly made to sound good on the radio whether at full volume in your truck or overheard in a noisy bar.
Opener Girl is not the best on the album, although US critics say it’s the most ambitious song she’s done. It’s aimed at female listeners, telling them to stand up to it, whatever it is: “Girl, don’t you hang your head low / Don’t you lose your halo”.
The Feels is jauntier and it’s a song about being willingly picked up by a guy; the feels are the bubbles “in a bottle of cheap champagne”. It’s a catchy and bouncy tune that’ll probably see many a first dance in US bars.
All My Favourite People is easily the early standout, a kickass rock-country rocker where she both proclaims her independence and freedom from convention while at the same time telling her fans she’s one of them, whether it’s drinking on a Tuesday, spending what they earn in one go, or smoking weed or a cigarette: “We ain’t all perfect but we’re doing all right,” she sings. Brothers Osborne joins in to add some man appeal. There’s a lot of guitar and a big ending. If you don’t say “hell yeah” as the last note fades, you’re stronger willed than us.
Flavor is another where she speaks her mind: “Ain’t gonna water down my words or sugar up my spice / Sometimes the truth don’t always come out nice” she sings; it’s a little forgettable musically but perhaps aimed at the ZZ Top fans with its solid drums and guitar riff, especially as after it ends a scratchy voice says: “This is the end of side one.”
Side two is more laid back (aka forgettable), the lyrics blander. But many a vinyl best-seller only had side one played. The slower Great Ones is not bad, more for the guitar lick than anything, and To Hell and Back is ok, with lines like “Now, heartbreak ain’t a competition, but I took it in a landslide” and “My wings are frayed and what’s left of my halo’s black”.
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