ToC Critic’s Pick: Maren Morris, ‘Hero’
Strong songwriting carries Maren Morris’ Hero album, an 11 song project that epitomizes a sub-genre of the Nashville country sound. It’s East Nashville cool, with subtle hooks and digs replacing obvious overtures.
For the less discriminating fan (read: men), Morris’ stories of love and love lost will zip by like a fixed gear bike on Eastland Ave. At this point she’s a better songwriter than storyteller, but there’s plenty to look forward to in years to come. Vocally she’s at her best on the smoky “I Wish I Was,” “Second Wind” and “Once.” All are true showcases of the talent and the emotion she quietly carries with her.
Earlier on, tracks like “Sugar” and “Rich” find her impulses buried. Her humor is dry, but effective. Love songs to a car feel as important as love songs to a lover.
Morris and busbee produced Hero, her debut on Sony Nashville. They win with sonic diversity, at times dipping into soul, blues, grunge and jazz to frame the singer’s mood. “I Could Use a Love Song” may be the most mainstream of the set. At track 4, it’s a nice vacation from the edgier sounds of “Sugar,” “Rich” and “My Church.”
The music is the thread that connects the first song to the last, and it’s here that she makes her most important statement. Thematically she’s a little scatter-shot, but those fans that she reaches (read: single females) will find a voice that speaks to the heart of their journey.
Key Tracks: "My Church," “80s Mercedes,” “I Wish I Was,” “Once”
Did You Know?: Morris named the album Hero after a lyric in "I Wish I Was."
Who Is Maren Morris? Her Story So Far: