Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: November 4th 2022
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Maren Morris – Humble Quest: In Rare Form (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- The Furthest Thing (In Rare Form)
- I Can’t Love You Anymore (In Rare Form)
- Humble Quest (In Rare Form)
- Background Music (In Rare Form)
- Tall Guys (In Rare Form)
- Good Friends (In Rare Form)
- What Would This World Do? (In Rare Form)
Maren Morris has been in and around the music industry from quite some time. From her 2016 secular-gospel crossover radio hit ‘My Church’, to her collaboration with DJ Zedd on the song ‘The Middle’, to her breakout 2nd album GIRL, we see one of the brightest sparks and underrated gems of country music, continue to make waves and become one of the most impactful and influential up and coming country artists of this side of the millennia. Artists like Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Sara Evans, The Judds, The Chicks, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill and Brooks & Dunn (to name a few) are just some of the many country artists who have paved the way during the 1990s and 2000s, and artists like Maren Morris, Lindsay Ell, Thomas Rhett, Mickey Guyton, Tenille Townes, Maddie & Tae, Dan + Shay, Jana Kramer, Hunter Hayes, Kelsea Ballerini and Lauren Alania (just a few of many, many more artists over the last few years) are some of the recipients of the well-earned hard work that was laid down by artists from years ago.
Maren is indeed a standout artist over the last few years- we even wrote a blog post about her a few years back, as part of a blog series discussing impactful music artists now and into the future (of which Maren is, by my own definition, definitely a part of). That was a few years ago- upon the release of Maren’s 2019 album GIRL, we as a site figured out that her music was something special. We quickly wrote a blog about her music shortly after, then reviewed her 2020 confronting (yet equally sobering) single ‘Better Than We Found It’. Fast-forward to 2022 and Maren is certainly not slowing down- the release of Humble Quest was at the end of March 2022, and we as a site wrote a review on that album here, highlighting standout songs like ‘Circles Around This Town’, ‘Background Music’, the title track, as well as the album closer ‘What Would This World Do?’. Since that album’s release in March 2022, Humble Quest has become a great country album standout, alongside others like Kiefer Sutherland’s Bloor Street, The Shires’s 10 Year Plan, Luke Combs’s Growin’ Up and Carrie Underwood’s Denim & Rhinestones, to name a few. Now here in March 2023, we see Maren unveil something ‘new’, but equally familiar to her listeners- Humble Quest: In Rare Form, that features 7 of her 11 songs, stripped down and delivered in a much more intimate and personal setting, showcasing these 7 songs in a more emotive and relatable light for those who hear it, myself included.
‘The Furthest Thing’, ‘I Can’t Love You Anymore’, ‘Humble Quest’, ‘Background Music’, ‘Tall Guys’, ‘Good Friends’ and ‘What Would This World Do?’ are the 7 songs redone for this project, and while it could’ve been interesting to see Maren’s standout song ‘Circles Around This Town’ redone for this project as well, it’s still nice to see these seven given the ‘re-recorded’ treatment. ‘Background Music’, initially a pre-release track from her album Humble Quest, is a heartfelt melody that reminds us of what love ought to be down the track, when everything that you do fades away. What does love look like when you don’t have your looks going for you, when you do have these sorts of physical ailments plaguing your body? Can the love that you have go deeper than just the physical? Can love stand the test of time?
‘The Furthest Thing’ expresses a sense of gratitude, as Maren shows us that her and her husband and their union seems to be the furthest thing, from expections of others and their own, from societal norms, and every other metric- yet the song suggests that both Maren and Ryan still fit together perfectly in spite of opinions and assumptions; while Maren in ‘I Can’t Love You Anymore’ underlays this understanding and notion, that she can’t love her husband anymore (and even less) than she does right now, complimenting his durability and ability to stand by her, even during the moment where she believes he shouldn’t. Title track ‘Humble Quest’ reminds us of the never-ending life-long quest each of us are on through our own journeys, all the while allowing us to undertake all of this with grace, poise and humility (to be ok with not being right, to be open to other perspectives with the ability to empathise with another person who may differ in opinion- on maybe everything); whilst a tongue in cheek ‘Tall Guys’ lightens up the mood, with Maren listing all of the things that she likes about tall guys (maybe as both someone to be in relationship with, or even someone to be friends with).
‘Good Friends’ is an ode to great friendship and how friendship at its core is being there for someone even when that someone doesn’t even realise they need help, or even to take it one step further, knows they do need help, but doesn’t even want your help. Friendship is showing up when it counts and matters, about sacrifice and loyalty, never asking why, and just undertaking the right thing- because it’s always the right thing to do. The EP then ends with the emotive and reflective ‘What Would This World Do?’, a song very poignant and personal to Maren herself, who wrote this song as a response the feelings surrounding record producer busbee’s death. Busbee the producer impacted a lot of musicians throughout the years, and I guess Maren felt it right to create a song in his honour- and a compelling one at that. Similar to how ‘Visiting Hours’ by Ed Sheeran was to honour the late Michael Gudinski; ‘What Would This World Do?’ is a reminder of busbee’s impact on the world, that the pondering of ‘what would this world do without you’ is a reminder to each of us, of how significant this person was to the life of Maren, that after they’re gone, this world won’t look or even be the same. A sombre song that speaks about death, life, loss, and heartbreak all within the confines of 4 minutes or so, Maren authentically delivers this hauntingly confronting track, but also one of the most needed songs on the EP, full stop.
So, there we have it… Humble Quest: In Rare Form, 7 songs recorded more intimately and acoustically, so that these songs and their lyrics can be highlighted all the more. Maybe, Maren herself felt like these 7 songs are needed to be heard again by listeners (albeit in a slightly different form), one year later? As I’ve said in last year’s review of Humble Quest, I’ll say it again for this EP too- Humble Quest: In Rare Form (and by extension, Humble Quest itself) is God’s way of reminding us that we are indeed on a quest to find out the mysteries of the universe that have boggled people’s minds for centuries- why are we here, and does my life even matter? It’s an EP full of wonder and hope, but also of lament and sorrow. It’s a EP that celebrates life, but also acknowledges in a sober way, that life doesn’t last forever, at least the earthly life that we know of, at the moment. Well done Maren for such a powerful and challenging EP and a great follow-up to 2022’s Humble Quest. Here’s hoping people think about issues and discuss things that matter, in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
3 songs to listen to: Humble Quest, What Would This World Do?, I Can’t Love You Anymore
RIYL: Lindsay Ell, Miranda Lambert, Tenille Townes, Carly Pearce