Release Date: June 11th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- I Only Date Cowboys
- Outdoor Voices
- Break Things
- Cheating On You
- Mad I Need You
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. In times of COVID-19 and the most recent new lockdown in NSW Australia (where I’m from); we all need encouragement, inspiration, and assurances that we’ll be ok and that people are by our sides no matter what. We all need hope, and something to cling onto. We all need to be provided with media that challenges us but also delivers positivity and optimism. I’ve lately found that in country music, and the sheer vulnerability, honesty and raw emotion found in a number of songs and albums I have listened to and reviewed in the past. It’s not that the hope and emotion aren’t there in other music genres- it’s just that I’ve heard it more in country albums. Which brings me to an artist and project that has tugged at my heart and buried its way into my head for all the right reasons. This sense of realness and vulnerability is all the more apparent in up-and-coming artist Kylie Morgan’s debut EP Love, Kylie; and it is Kylie’s EP that has resonated and hit hard of late. I was first introduced to Kylie’s music from my home Youtube page while I was listening to other country artists and reviewing their albums; but after I heard “Break Things” not too long ago, I was hooked. Kylie’s debut project released this past month, and for those of you who are on the fence about the country genre, I reckon Love, Kylie is a best place to start. I guarantee that you’ll find something to cheer about from these heartfelt songs.
I’ve only played the singles game, where I’ve only released one song at a time. As a new artist, I want to have this direct contact with fans in a way that they don’t just know my songs, they know me with my songs. That’s what I was wanting to accomplish for this EP. I wanted people to continue to peel back the layers and see each part of who I am and see each chapter in my life. What I was hoping for this EP, was that it would relate to theirs and that it was very authentic, pretty much like ripping my heart out of my chest and being like, ‘hi, do you like it? Here’s an EP that’s everything that has to do with that’ (laughs). I’m so glad that you say that because at the end of the day, I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and I’m not afraid to say things maybe I shouldn’t say in my songs, or say things that aren’t politically correct. I just want people to know that I’m authentic and I hope that they relate to that, and I hope that they feel that way when they hear the EP.
Honestly, finding the words for the whole process…. I’m a writer, and I still haven’t been able to figure it out. I actually have been very good friends with Ben [Johnson], since neither one of us had publishing deals. We started writing together when I was 19 years old, I had just moved to Nashville, and we just immediately clicked. It wasn’t just like a writer relationship, it became such a brother/sister friendship was just undeniable. We became better friends and we ended up hanging out more as friends than we even wrote together. When it came to the magic that we have in the room creating together and me being able to be so open with my life in a way that I couldn’t be with other people because we were so close, I think that’s why we were able to create the things that we were able to create. We were so open with each other and so honest, and we knew each other so well. Mashing this new producer and writer with Shane McAnally, that has 50-something number ones and who has undeniably shown his talents over and over, who also believes in me and knows me in a way that no one else does, to bring those two energies together was absolutely incredible. I wish I could do like it every day because it was so magical.
“Shoulda”, the EP’s first track, gallops out of the gate musically, as this hard-hitting rock/country anthem dives deep into a toxic and abusive relationship, with Kylie admonishing her ex for wanting to be friends with her, and berating herself a bit for wanting to feel wanted and hence undertaking stupid decisions. And though Kylie as been in a healthy relationship for a while now (“…We’ve been together for six years and when you’re together for that long, you are not going to have a perfect relationship – no one is – and there’s going to be a point in time where you start to drift apart. That is where you either fight for it or you give up on it, it’s a make-or-break moment, which I feel like a lot of relationships have….”); writing about a fictitious strain on a relationship is a warning for all of us, and reminds us that sometimes we should remove toxic people from our lives otherwise we’ll be all the worse for it.
“I Only Date Cowboys”, a silly, tongue in cheek melody about only dating cowboys and other certain types of people, pokes fun at people with lists of things potential partners meet and do not meet, and lets us know that when we find the one for us, it doesn’t matter if they meet our lists or not (similar in theme to “6-2” from Marie Miller!); while “Outside Voices” is a heartfelt ballad about wanting to buck away from the status quo and let people know that we all cannot be silenced. A song that showcases individuality and uniqueness, Kylie reminds us all that we can be loud, messy, vulnerable, honest and emotional. When people see more than one type of people challenging the norm of what is and striving to better the world and make a better world that loves and accepts others for who they are not who they could be; this is what the world should look like, and Kylie lets us know that we all need to let each other be heard, through this song. And as Kylie has let us know: I wanted a song on the EP that reflected that feeling of needing to stand on top of a mountain and scream. (laughing) Society tells us, especially females, that we have to be a certain size or act a certain way, and that song was designed to connect people together again and empower people to think for themselves. My good friend, Erica Rich, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer a couple of years ago, tells me that that one is her favourite song. I sent it to her when I wrote it and she’s been listening to it on her phone for two years now and now that it’s finally out she’s over the moon that other people can listen to it as well. I wanted ‘Outdoor Voices’ to be an anthem for people going through difficult journeys so that it can provide a little help and comfort.
Love, Kylie’s first single is “Break Things”, which is the most radio friendly track on the project, and speaks about a feeling of abandon, freedom and recklessness, whereby we all want to hold people far away from us and not wanting them to stand too close, because we feel unworthy or we feel like trouble follows us wherever we go. “Break Things” is an admission of brokenness, and a relucant acceptance that people shouldn’t know us because of our tendency to willingly or unwilling hurt everything and everyone around us. And though there is no resolution for a pop/country song like this, Kylie herself recalls that the song creates that emotion of feeling safe, and that emotion of knowing that you can be vulnerable and broken and that people can and will accept you as they are: I was shopping with one of my girlfriends when I saw a wine glass that said, ‘I break things,’ on it. My first thought was to buy it; my next thought was to write it. When I brought the title into the room the next day, it literally spilled out on the page. Every line was so honest, and so me. ‘Break Things,’ really sets the tone for the record. It’s upbeat and honest, it’s what I’m all about. But I want a song for every emotion on this record. I want you to have a tune to turn to no matter how your feeling or what you’re going through. I want to give a perspective and a feeling of not being alone for every emotion. Sort of like the point of the song is the opposite of what it’s ‘saying’- to in fact hold people close because even if you do ‘break things’, that they’ll still be there for you in the end? Perhaps that’s what the track is about, I don’t know… am I reading too much into it?
“Cheating On You” is a confessional guitar led ballad that basically relays that relationships in general are hard work and need to be cultivated and actively worked on, otherwise the two people can feel like strangers in the end and can feel like they’re ‘cheating’ on each other when they’re drifting apart; while the EP ends with the most emotional song on the EP. “Mad I Need You” speaks about Kylie and her independence being threatened by intense feelings of love and want and need for another person, with the song diving deep into our on the surface admission that we can do life alone, and that we can live life apart from each other; but then us slowly realising that people in fact do need people, and that no man is an island in this thing called life. With Kylie fighting the feeling of love and need and reliance, we are presented with a dichotomy. When we let people in, do we lose our individuality and our sense of ability to do things ourselves? Or does the fact that we have someone sharing our life with mean that we’re happier and more satisfied? Questions to ponder about a answer- but let’s just say that I personally reckon that we all need other humans- romantic or platonic people in our lives- in order to live, thrive and survive. When we’re on our own, we won’t make it. Just my thought though.
I have about 500 songs in my catalogue right now that I’ve been waiting at the door to run through. I actually already have an idea of where we’re going next and where we’re going next after that. I’m definitely a planner. I’ve had my whole life to map this out. I feel no pressure at all. I’m more just excited to continue to release thse songs that have been pretty much in my song catalogue for so many years. For instance, ‘Cuss a Little’ I wrote when I was 19 and I’m 25 now. I have these songs that I’ve been writing over the course of 10 years that finally get to live out in the world. Now that people can see the whole ‘Love, Kylie’ together, these are just the first six chapters and they’re going to help me continue to write the rest. I have so many new things that I can’t wait to show people. It’s less pressure and just more excitement for me.
I feel like I have proved that the connection between me the fans and the music is connecting. I’m hoping that with all these incredible people on board now, that it’ll get easier for me to release more music quickly. I’m even looking at wanting to release more music by Fall, as far as another body of work whether it’s an EP or whether it’s an album. I’m just excited to continue this journey and continue to get music out there, and honestly just to get more songs that people can turn to for whatever they’re going through, and be that book that people can put on their bedside and read before bed and feel at ease before they go to sleep. I’m really excited to just continue to put songs out there and continue to meet new fans.
Apart from this 6 song EP, Kylie Morgan has only released a handful of singles. So there’s not that much to go on in regards to whether she will make it big or not in the industry. But Kylie’s passion and enthusiasm for life is sure to keep her on the road to stardom, popularity and future influence in 10+ years, I reckon. Of this I am convinced. And I do believe that the future is bright in country music with her recording songs- and so there’s not much for me to say other than to listen to this EP. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you resonate with these songs, and deeper still with the messages the songs impart to us.
3 songs to listen to: Shoulda, Break Things, Mad I Need You
RIYL: Maddie & Tae, Jana Kramer, Ingrid Andress, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, Lindsay Ell, Caylee Hammack