|Maren Larae Morris — Hero [Target Exclusive Edition] (June 3, 2016)|
Maren Larae Morris — Hero [Target Exclusive Edition] (June 3, 2016) ★↔★ Texas–born and bred singer and songwriter was an 11–year veteran of the music biz when “My Church” became a breakout hit.
★↔★ “Maren Morris isn’t trying to be a country music ‘savior,’ but she’s just what Nashville needs”. — The Washington Post
Born: April 10, 1990 in Dallas, TX
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Album release: June 3, 2016
Record Label: Sony Music Nashville
01. Sugar 3:09
02. Rich 3:28
03. My Church 3:17
04. I Could Use a Love Song 3:16
05. 80s Mercedes 3:31
06. Drunk Girls Don’t Cry 3:31
07. How It’s Done 3:25
08. Just Another Thing 2:58
09. I Wish I Was 4:00
10. Second Wind 3:19
11. Once 3:53
Target Exclusive Tracks:
12. Bummin’ Cigarettes 3:06
13. Company You Keep 3:36
14. Space 3:08
↔ 2016 Hero Billboard Canadian Albums #14
↔ 2016 Hero Country Albums #1
↔ 2016 Hero Country Albums #1
↔ 2016 Hero The Billboard 200 #5
↔ 2016 Hero Top Digital Albums #3
↔ Adam Ayan Mastering
↔ Jeff Balding Engineer
↔ Tracy Baskette–Fleaner Creative Director
↔ Rich Brinsfield Bass
↔ Busbee Bass, Composer, Engineer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Hammond B3, Keyboards, Mixing, Organ (Hammond), Percussion, Piano, Producer, Programming, Synthesizer, Wurlitzer
↔ Dave Clauss Engineer, Mixing
↔ Eric Darken Engineer, Percussion
↔ Barry Dean Composer
↔ Zack Dewall Assistant Engineer
↔ Jesse Jo Dillon Composer
↔ Matt Dragstrem Composer
↔ Fred Eltringham Drums, Percussion
↔ Ian Fitchuk Hammond B3, Organ (Hammond), Piano
↔ Natalie Hemby Composer, Vocals (Background)
↔ Brad Hill Engineer, Noise, Producer, Programming, Vocals (Background)
↔ Ryan Hurd Composer, Vocals (Background)
↔ Scott Johnson Production Assistant
↔ Robby Klein Photography
↔ Luke Laird Composer
↔ Mason Levy Programming
↔ Shane McAnally Composer
↔ Alfreda McCrary Choir/Chorus
↔ Allen McCrary Choir/Chorus
↔ Beverly McCrary Choir/Chorus
↔ Deborah McCrary Choir/Chorus
↔ Regina McCrary Choir/Chorus
↔ Hayley McLean Guitar (Electric)
↔ Amanda Miller Assistant Engineer
↔ Maren Morris Composer, Liner Notes, Producer, Vocals (Background)
↔ Ernesto Olivera Assistant Engineer
↔ John Osborne Choir/Chorus, Guitar (Electric)
↔ Jimmy Robbins Composer
↔ Juan Sevilla Assistant Engineer
↔ Aaron Sterling Drums, Engineer, Percussion
↔ Morgan Stratton Assistant Engineer
↔ Dave Thompson Vocals (Background)
↔ Mark Trussell Guitar (Electric)
↔ Brett Tyler Composer
↔ Laura Veltz Composer, Vocals (Background)
↔ Derek Wells Engineer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Mandolin
↔ Brian David Willis Digital Editing
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine; Score: ****½
★↔★ Maren Morris didn’t precisely arrive out of nowhere when she delivered her major–label debut in the summer of 2016 — she racked up three independent records between 2005 and 2011, the first arriving when she was 15 years old — but Hero certainly felt unexpected and fresh upon its release. Much of this inventiveness reflects Morris’ cross–cultural sensibility, cultivated from equal exposure to classic country, modern pop, and hip–hop, an aesthetic that places Hero at the crossroads of a couple of strands of modern country. At her core, Morris is a singer/songwriter in the vein of Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, and Kacey Musgraves — writers with a keen eye for telling domestic details, composing songs that draw upon tradition but address the present — but the production she developed with Busbee draws sharply from the lithe R&B influences pioneered by Sam Hunt and the colorful crossover pop of Little Big Town. With its stuttering reggae–inflected electronic rhythms, “Rich” recalls “Painkiller” but it’s not a re–creation: Morris twists the rhymes, riding the beat while undercutting her boasts with sly wit. Attitude is a big thing with her. She’s funny, profane, and passionate, qualities that serve her well on the album’s bolder, brighter numbers, songs where she bends and clips her words in a fashion that owes some debt to hip–hop. On the slower numbers, she flips this skill, easing into the sultry, soulful simmer of “I Wish I Was” or the hushed “I Could Use a Love Song” with an elegant grace. One of the pleasures of Hero is how Morris skillfully slides between styles, blurring distinctions between genre and eras. Much of the album takes its cue from its breakthrough single, “My Church,” a piece of secular gospel praising the power of the radio: she draws her strength from the power of pop culture. Maybe that’s why she can so easily glide between old–school soul, glistening pop, trash talk, and contemporary R&B on Hero, letting each provide an essential element on an album that feels thoroughly modern and thoroughly country. By drawing upon so many cross–currents, Hero belongs to the digital era but it’s the songs — smart, sharp, and hooky — that make this a great modern pop album, regardless of genre. ★↔★ http://www.allmusic.com/
By Emily Yahr March 14
★↔★ NASHVILLE — When a new act makes a successful splash in country music, it typically arrives with an obvious talking point: Kacey Musgraves’s truth bombs about small–town suffocation; Sam Hunt’s brash infusion of R&B; Chris Stapleton’s traditionalism; Maddie & Tae’s anti–bro–country “Girl in a Country Song.”
★↔★ Maren Morris, 25, has accomplished a rare feat — making waves without an easily grasped message. If anything, she writes songs about experiences that are difficult to explain, like the fleeting surge of confidence you have before leaving the house for a big night. Or the blissful, near–spiritual feeling of driving while your favorite music blasts out of the speakers.
★↔★ Her ability to capture the latter resulted in a hit first single, the soulful “My Church” (“When this wonderful world gets heavy and I need to find my escape/ I just keep the wheels rolling, radio scrolling, til my sins wash away”). The song has done so well in only a few months that Sony’s Columbia Nashville — which signed Morris last fall after a bidding war — announced plans Monday to release her first major–label album, “Hero,” on June 3.
★↔★ Although “My Church” benefited from iHeartRadio’s “On the Verge” program, which requires country stations to play chosen songs a certain amount of times, it’s matching radio momentum in sales. The song, at
★↔★ No. 12 on radio, is regularly at the top of the iTunes country charts and has sold 253,000 copies.
★↔★ Morris’s pop–country songs hit a special sweet spot: introspective and clever, keeping with Nashville songwriting tradition, yet at the same time, unapologetically commercial and catchy with pop–crossover potential. Plus, she’s making the process of breaking into country music as a young, female artist look effortless, which is what Nashville needs right now. It’s a significant benchmark in a male–dominated genre that has recently seen women struggle to gain a foothold.
★↔★ “Obviously, there’s this lack of a female perspective that I would like to hear,” Morris said during a recent interview here. In contrast to her powerhouse vocals, she has a low–key, quiet confidence and is remarkably chill about how fast her life is changing.
★↔★ Morris’s emergence coincides with a new spotlight on the challenges women face in the country industry, sparked last year when a radio consultant’s advice to country stations — limit female voices in the rotation for higher ratings — went viral. Morris recognizes that this increases the attention on her as a breakthrough artist and emphasizes the need for more diversity of viewpoints, although she thinks radio has made strides.
★↔★ Still, she added, “It’s not my aim to be this, like, ‘savior for females.’ I just want to make good music.”
★↔★ Morris said she’s simply excited to offer a different perspective not even in terms of gender, but thematically. Although “Hero” boasts songs about relationships (the mournful “I Wish I Was,” the hopeful “I Could Use a Love Song”), it touches a wide range of topics.
★↔★ “I love love songs, but sometimes it’s okay to just be young and talk about something other than getting married or falling in love,” Morris said. “There are so many fun things that you live that you can write about and people of all ages can connect to.” Such as “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry,” some real talk to a friend who dates losers; or “80’s Mercedes,” a soaring anthem about hitting the town.
★↔★ Although Morris is barely old enough to rent the cars she sings about, she’s in her second decade as a performer. Raised in Arlington, Tex., Morris hit the state music circuit after her parents bought her a guitar when she was a tween. In between high school and college classes, she recorded three albums by the time she was 21.
★↔★ When she won an award at 2012 music seminar in New York, Morris made Nashville connections. With some help from Musgraves, a fellow Texas pal, Morris moved to Music City a year later.
★↔★ At the time, Morris felt a bit burned out as a performer, and she was eager to hone her songwriting chops. She signed a publishing deal within a year and soon had cuts on Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson albums. But there was a problem: As her writing skills sharpened, her publishers told her it would be difficult to shop her songs around town — because they couldn’t imagine anyone else but her singing those lyrics.
★↔★ “At first that pissed me off, because I was like, ‘Come on!’ But then when you keep hearing ‘It should be you saying it,’ it eventually sunk in,” Morris said. “It was a lightbulb moment. It was like, ‘Why the hell shouldn’t it be me?’ ”
★↔★ So Morris cautiously dove into the performing world again. On a writing trip to Los Angeles in early 2015, Morris — stinging after a bad breakup — took a drive to see the ocean. A sense of peace washed over her as she listened to music in her car. She thought, “This is my version of church.”
★↔★ The next day, she had a scheduled co–writing session with producer Mike Busbee, who has written songs for Garth Brooks, Shakira and 5 Seconds of Summer, among others. She told him she had a title for a song: “My Church.”
★↔★ “My initial thought was ‘Really? I think it’s cool, but what would we do with it?’ ” Busbee recalls a year later. But he had been eager to work with Morris since the first time he saw her sing at a Nashville writer’s round, where writers perform their songs. He threw out an idea: “Can I get a Hallelujah/Can I get an Amen?”
★↔★ The line ended up as the chorus, and they wrote the song in an hour. The process for “80’s Mercedes” was similar. Morris came in with the title, eager to pinpoint the feeling of getting ready to go out for the night. Then Busbee offered a killer hook: I’m a ‘90s baby in my ‘80s Mercedes. Morris, born in 1990, took the lyrics from there, penning an easy candidate for an upcoming song of the summer.
★↔★ By the time Sony signed Morris in September, her songs had already been uploaded to Spotify and had about 2 million streams. Busbee, who is co–producing Morris’s album, is gratified but not surprised by the strong reaction.
★↔★ “It’s the trifecta: To have a voice like that; to have that presence, the way she carries herself; and the way she writes songs . . . put that all together, you can’t stop wanting to engage with that as a listener,” he said. “Of course people are freaking out.” ★↔★ https://www.washingtonpost.com/
|Maren Larae Morris — Hero [Target Exclusive Edition] (June 3, 2016)|
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