Our April Staff picks include a Maren Morris double-header, plus Adam Hambrick, Jake Owen, and Morgan Wallen.
Lydia: “A Song for Everything” by Maren Morris
By now, I’ve listened to Maren Morris’ latest album Girl in its entirety more times than I can count. While I could pick any one of the tracks on the album, there is something so simple yet powerful about this one. Written by Morris, Jimmy Robbins & Laura Veltz, the song perfectly captures the beauty of great songwriting and how music truly has a unique way of allowing us to get lost in a memory for 3 minutes or so. Morris references those mixtapes (or, these days, playlists) we make, which quite literally serve as our time machines. From the very first line, “A Song for Everything” will have you nostalgically transported to both highs and lows in your life making you acutely aware that yes, there really is a song for everything.
“What’s your time machine / Is it Springsteen or “Teenage Dream” / One danced you through love / One rocked you through lonely / Mixtaped your heartbreak and made you feel holy / For the hits and the misses / For the fire and rain / Close your eyes and listen / ‘Cause there’s a song for everything / Yeah, there’s a song for everything.”
Markus: “Rockin’ All Night Long” by Adam Hambrick
I won’t lie, from the opening beats I was under the impression that Adam Hambrick would be yet another addition to the generic line of new male vocalists. However, this is actually really good stuff. The production, while glossy, is light and fairly restrained. The hook and writing (the progressive development of the use of “rocking”) is clever and meaningful, while Hambrick is a unique and engaging vocalist. It’s melodically sound, and employs an excellent use of meter. I’m not sure what the future holds for Hambrick or this single, but it’s an earnest, intelligent slice of pop-country that deserves to reach an audience.
Annie: “To Hell & Back” by Maren Morris
I’m sorry (not sorry) to make this a Maren love fest this month, but I haven’t been able to take this song off loop even if I wanted to. Written by Morris with Jessie Jo Dillon and Laura Veltz, “To Hell & Back” feels refreshingly real in its depiction of romance. Lines like “the skeletons I wanted to bury, you liked out in the light” showcase the love-your-flaws dynamic, and the chorus champions a man whose embracing of the “rougher” edges makes for a perfect fit:
“You didn’t save me / You didn’t think I needed saving / You didn’t change me / You didn’t think I needed changing / My wings are frayed and what’s left of my halo’s black / Lucky for me, your kind of heaven’s been to Hell and back”
Here’s my two cents: Songs often seem to embrace a woman’s flaws in a non-flaw way: he likes her without makeup (because of course she’s naturally gorgeous), it’s cute the way she sings the words wrong, whatever. But there’s a real world of guilt, mistakes, hurt, personality traits that go against the grain, and vices that make it easy to feel like you can be too much to handle or irrevocably flawed. “To Hell & Back” is a hat tip to the men that truly cherish real-life women for who they are, and is a reminder that those people do in fact exist.
Amanda: “Homemade” by Jake Owen
From his recent release, Greetings from… Jake, “Homemade” may just be the most country song Jake’s released yet—and I’m not just referring to its sound. Lyrically, Owen tugs at our heartstrings and uses a bit of wordplay to remind us all that more often than not, the best things are homemade. Our fondest memories, our favorite people, our most valuable life lessons, and the heart of who we are all comes from home. When it comes to country music, it’s all about getting to the heart of the matter, and that’s exactly what Jake did here.
Natalie: “Cover Me Up” by Morgan Wallen
I’m all about an “Up Down” jam session, but I must admit I was totally skeptical when I saw a video circulating of Morgan Wallen covering one of Jason Isbell’s most recognized and critically acclaimed songs. But then I listened, and quickly changed my attitude. Oh my GOODNESS. The dude can sing, and this version of “Cover Me Up” somehow retains all the reverence and honesty of Isbell’s original while bringing a little Stapleton-esque power and grit to the table. Wallen pulls off an impressively emotive performance, and somehow his delivery made me listen to the lyrics in a new, different way. Kudos, bravo, keep the surprises coming!