Morgan Evans Embraces the ‘Ridiculousness’ of Major Life Changes in New EP [Exclusive]
Two heartbreakers, two positivity anthems and one fan-favorite live cut: That's the track list of Morgan Evans' new album, and he'll be the first to admit that none of it really goes together.
"The whole conversation of, 'What are we gonna call this group of songs' was such a weird conversation, because...they don't really fit together, other than the fact that they came from this time in my life where I kinda felt like it was being turned upside down," Evans tells Taste of Country. Evans' Life Upside Down EP — so named for its one common thread — arrives on Friday (April 21.)
Even the most casual Morgan Evan fans knows that the singer's life looks a whole lot different today than it did this time in 2022. In August of 2022, Evans and his then-wife, country star Kelsea Ballerini, announced that they were getting divorced after nearly five years of marriage. Over the months since, that split has played out in the public eye, with both parties releasing songs and short films about the breakup. The first song to come out about the split was Evans' "Over for You," a raw and fresh breakup ballad that he debuted onstage in his home country of Australia.
From there, things got a little messy. Ballerini gave a bombshell interview on the Call Her Daddy podcast, implying some resentment that Evans had dropped a song about their breakup before the divorce was even finalized. She would go on to reply to the song's lyrics specifically in her own music about the divorce, an EP called Rolling Up the Welcome Mat. Meanwhile, Evans put out "On My Own Again," a song that finds him striking out as a free agent and beginning to embrace the single life once again.
Rolling Up the Welcome Mat takes listeners through a breakup step by step; if Evans' fans were expecting something similarly curated, they won't find it in Life Upside Down. The project is a bit of a catch-all: There are the breakup songs, but there are also two songs recorded pre-divorce, "Hey Little Mama" and "All Right Here," which emphasize Evans' zest for life and playful sense of humor.
"We started recording it in May, June of last year, and then obviously, a lot of things changed in my life," Evans says. "'Over for You' happened at a very real and dark time. 'On My Own Again' happened at a point coming out of that. We already had these two other songs that had been recorded [earlier], so they just ended up on this project together. And then we paid homage to the ridiculousness of it by putting a camel on the cover of the EP and just calling it what it is."
A lot of artists would have scrapped the older songs and started fresh, but Evans didn't want to risk letting "Hey Little Mama" and "All Right Here" fall through the cracks. If he shelved them, he reasoned, he might never get around to putting them out at all.
"It's important to me that people hear those songs," he explains. "We've been playing them live on the road a lot, because they're songs that were inspired by being in a band again, and they're also the feelings that I want people to feel when they listen to my music and come to my shows."
But that's not the only reason why he wanted to embrace the chaos on Life Upside Down. "This is a very uniquely mismatched — and yet, just right — group of songs for this time," Evans continues. "It's like -- this is right now, exactly how it is.
"I don't know if this is too deep, but I am so put off by performative authenticity," the singer goes on to say. He didn't want to make a concept album. He didn't want to get so wrapped up in presentation that he lost what was real and raw in his story. In a sense, Evans' hodge-podge presentation of his new music is defiantly authentic, intentionally steering clear of curation. He just wanted to put out a collection of songs that are important to him right now.
"I think the opposite of performative authenticity is just being real," Evans says. "And this group of songs is just really what I made in the last six months...What's the most authentic thing [I] can do right now? Put the songs out that [I] wrote. And that's what I'm doing."