Album Review: Maren Morris is a Country Music Hero With Debut Album ‘Hero’

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If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for Sheryl Crow and Kacey Musgraves to record an album with the vibe and grooves of some ’90s R&B, you don’t have to wonder any longer. Maren Morris‘ major label debut, Hero, is here and it’s uniquely country, but also throws most genre labels out the window in just a few beats.

Morris, like Musgraves hails from Texas and also like Musgraves, Morris is a smart, witty lyricist that is able to accurately capture many emotions without alienating listeners. Her

Morris is a credited writer on all 11 tracks and each takes the listener on a different path to self-acceptance and awareness. In April, Morris told us, “It’s a really diverse record. It starts off really ballsy and fun. It takes you on this journey through humor and heartbreak and it’s the most honest piece of art I’ve made.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Morris is her “ballsy-iest” on “How It’s Done” where she’s soulful and bold with the help of a sexy R&B vibe and declares, “I can show you how it’s done, let me show you how it’s done.” On “I Could Use a Love Song,” Morris is honest and sincere about how most people feel about love and relationships after they’ve been hurt. And any song that can talk about the lost art of the eye-roll is sure to relate to just about any audience.

“Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” and “Rich” are straight-up anthems, which show off Morris’ ability to be light-hearted while also trashing boys (men). But, even the guys will like these tunes.

“Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” starts off with a bang and applies the pressure throughout. Girls everywhere have a new mantra for crappy guys–

What you do with trash? You take it out
So why are you letting him hang around?
Girl, you gotta know when to clean house
And throw his shit out in the yard

“Rich” is my personal favorite on Hero, where Morris shows off her ability to do a little sing-rapping, but in a cleaner, smoother way than say, Florida Georgia Line. Her delivery is bold, brash and absolutely catchy. And if most of the country isn’t saying, “shit, I’d be rich” by the end of summer I’ll be shocked.

Boy I’d be rich, head to toe Prada
Benz in the driveway, yacht in the water
Vegas at the Mandarin, high roller gambling
Me and Diddy drippin’ diamonds like Marilyn
No I wouldn’t be covered in all your IOU’s
Every promise you made me would have some real value
Cause all the little lies rolling on your lips
Is money falling from the sky…shit I’d be rich

Listeners may also notice Morris’ frequent and casual use of the word “shit” throughout these two songs. Listeners may not notice that she’s also kind of doing the unthinkable in country music– using a four-letter word. But she does it so productively and effectively, I’m convinced there are no other words she could even use in its place.

Morris is at her most vulnerable on “I Wish I Was” a funky, groovy breakup song that is all-too-real for most people. The tune also captures Morris’ ability to describe a universal truth in a different way than her counterparts.

So go on, say what you want to
I’m not gonna stop you
You can blame it all on me

I’m not the hero in the story
I’m not the girl that gets the glory
Cause you’re looking for true love
And I’m not the one
But I wish, but I wish I was

Overall, Hero is one of the most eclectic country music releases in recent memory. It touches on old-school country music values, while digging deep into Morris’ many influences and interests. Her songwriting is top-notch and her vocals are so powerful and so soulful you wouldn’t know she is only 26.

The best part of Hero is that the best song isn’t “My Church,” though it’s the one that pushed Morris into the spotlight.

Country music has a lot of heroes in its long history, but few have made the word “shit” sound so good. And that’s just one of the many things on Hero that shows Morris is just bold enough to hang around for a long while in a genre that desperately needs more of what she’s bringing to the table.

Maren Morris – HERO