Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: May 5th 2023
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- I’m Not Pretty
- Tennessee Orange
- Kansas Anymore
- Girl In The Mirror
- Another On The Way
- Traitor Joe
- Why Johnny
- God Plays A Gibson
- Georgia Girl
- Sleep On My Side
- Mustang Or Me
- Sad Songs For Sad People
Ever since 2019 and our ever-on-going blog series (which we’re still in the middle of!), I’ve been branching out and listening to music that I wouldn’t normally in the past. And I’ve found that ‘mainstream’ music, which was marketed to me as ‘bad’ and ‘evil’, actually isn’t. These people who are singing songs for the mainstream media, are just people, and ordinary people like you and me. And it is country music is the genre (apart from CCM), which I have been most hard-hit by in a good away, and I’ve found that I’ve resonated greatly with artists like Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Shania Twain, Lindsay Ell, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Runaway June, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Lady A, Tenille Townes, Tenille Arts, Maddie & Tae, Mickey Guyton, Walker Hayes, Carly Pearce, Lauren Alaina, Gabby Barrett and even Taylor Swift. Even though I’m not American, it is these artists above (and many, many more whom I probably have forgotten!), who have helped place this genre in a special place in my heart. And as we’ve reviewed country albums over the years and seem God move in ways beyond imagination and comprehension with these artists, and as we’ve seen God be praised and given the glory in the marketplace; here we are in 2023 with another ‘new-ish’ artist and her heartfelt, honest, inspiring, vulnerable, and poignant music. Megan Moroney was indirectly recommended to me through a Grady Smith video where he reviewed a song of hers; but prior to before she was signed to Sony Music Entertainment, Megan was virtually an unknown artist. She was, and probably still is, an artist that has flown by underneath the radar. Sure, fans of Megan would know her discography inside and out. But the casual fan like myself (and I’m slowly becoming slightly more than a casual fan!), would have no idea. But this year, one of her songs from her debut album Lucky found its way onto a Spotify playlist I was listening to one day. From then on, I eagerly dived deep into Megan’s material, and found that as a country singer, her lyrics are incredibly deep and her passion and zeal for life so admirable. Megan’s songs aren’t as polished as veterans in the industry like Carrie or Miranda or Kelsea or Lainey or Carly, even though Megan is signed to a label now. But the honesty and vulnerability is still here, as we as listeners are met with one of the most heartfelt and strongest debut albums of the year thus far.
I find it easier to open up in a song than I do in conversation really. I kinda just trauma dump in my writing in a way that I don’t like to do just talking to people. A song like ‘Girl in the Mirror’ was a lot easier for me to write than it would have been for me to say out loud in a conversation with someone. It’s definitely therapeutic for me to be able to express my emotions in that format.
‘Same Trailer, Different Park’ [from Kacey Musgraves] was the first record I heard that made me want to write my own songs. I was, like, ‘how the heck did she think of that idea?’ (laughing) The other two artists who have the biggest influence on me are Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. Those three ladies are my big three. Their songwriting is just genius and that is what I try to focus on with my music, the writing. That comes first and then the song evolves after.
One thing I’ve noticed when I’ve been listening to this album, is that this project is incredibly diverse musically and that Megan’s voice is strong also- which are plus points in any debut album. Starting off the album with the track “I’m Not Pretty”, the snarky and satirical opener dives deep into a real life situation where Megan’s ex’s new girlfriend liked a post on Instagram from many years ago; and Megan is trying to figure out why the new girlfriend liked the photo and whether there was an ulterior motive. And as the opener speaks about the concept of spiralling and overthinking issues that may not even be issues; we are encouraged as people to sometimes let go of grudges and we are encouraged to make peace with whoever we think may have done us wrong. Because if we go through life thinking that everything around us is like a conspiracy, then we’ll never be truly happy. And as Megan reminds us that she ultimately doesn’t care about the reason the new girlfriend liked the photo- because it has no bearing on her life right now; we are inspired to not let everything in this world affect and impact us- because it doesn’t need to.
The rest of Lucky is just as deep as the first song, and maybe even more so. The title track is a fun and playful song about going out after a break up, letting loose, and having a party, despite your best friends thinking that it’s not a good idea if you’re not completely over the other person yet; while the flirty and sassy “Tennessee Orange” Is Megan’s attempt at a love song inspired by her wearing a Tennessee shirt even though she comes from Georgia: I’m a Georgia girl obviously, and there was a day that I found myself wearing a Tennessee shirt. And being from the South, you know you don’t put on another school’s shirt or anything like that. So I jokingly had the shirt on, and I was like…My mom would kill me if she saw me wearing this Tennessee shirt. And so I thought of the hook, “In Georgia, they call it a sin, I’m wearing Tennessee Orange for him.” And I knew if I felt consciously about feeling bad that I had a Tennessee shirt on, I could write a song about it. I thought it was a clever take on being from the South and the SEC (Conference) rivalry. And I’m not great at writing love songs, but I thought it would be a good way to squeeze one in there. “Kansas Anymore” speaks about the breakdown of a seemingly rock solid relationship, with Megan outlining in the heartbreaking ballad that sometimes relationships fail and that’s just how life goes sometimes; while the acoustic guitar led melody “Girl In the Mirror” is similar in theme to “homecoming queen?” by Kelsea Ballerini, with Megan earnestly crying out and declaring that sometimes in life, you have to put you first as opposed to chasing after a relationship and maybe a fantasy at the detriment of who you are as a person. It’s one of Megan’s most honest songs on the album, and is an album highlight as well; while the party anthem “Another On The Way” speaks about Megan having a drink to get over her ex, but also knowing that there is another potential partner on their way- and that there’s plenty more ‘fish in the sea’.
The gender-flipped powerful melody “Traitor Joe” is similar in theme to “You Belong With Me” from Taylor Swift, as Megan sings to her male friend, telling her that his current girlfriend is cheating on him and that she’s a traitor, and that he should be with her instead; while the story songs come in thick and fast with “Why Johnny” and “God Plays A Gibson”. The former is a melody written as a letter to June Cash, asking her questions about her marriage to Johnny Cash and how they managed to stay rock solid all these years; and the latter is a hopeful wish as to who God is like. Both melodies are probably my favourites on the album (I actually have many favourites!), and Megan should be proud of herself for these two songs in particular.
“Why Johnny” song story: You know, that’s why I wrote the song [Why Johnny], I have no idea. You can read all about Johnny and June and how they lived but no-one but them knows the real truth. I feel like my takeaway from writing ‘Why Johnny’ was to have empathy with June and other women in those type of situations. She must have been a really strong woman to be able to stick around through some of the things that he did and I would like to know how and why she did it, which is what the song is about.
Everybody recognizes them as this iconic love story, which they definitely were… I didn’t realize that when they met backstage at the Opry, they were married to two different people. As soon as I saw that, I thought, ‘Oh, well that’s a little messy’. Johnny struggled with alcohol and substance abuse and was living the rock star life. I just thought, ‘June, how did you know to stick with him through all of that? How did you know he was eventually going to be writing you poems every day?’ That song is special, because it was the first time I had written about someone else’s love story, but then tied it to my own.
“God Plays A Gibson” song story: So I’ve always wanted to say that God is a Georgia Bulldogs fan. And so that’s what I-that’s where I put it, I put it in ‘God plays a Gibson.’ This one was actually the most frustrating to write because I could not decide on a bridge. I had changed the second verse and then I just couldn’t decide on a bridge and we ended up keeping the original bridge that I had written with Mackenzie Carpenter and Colin Neely. But yeah, this one’s special because I kind of just talk about not trying to complicate God and because that’s kind of how I like to look at things and, you know, talk to him. I feel closer to him when I’m talking to him like a friend rather than any other way.
“Georgia Girl”, a no-holds-barred shade song to an ex, speaks about how Megan is from Georgia, and is hence somewhat resistant to the change that comes with a break-up, and her durability is incredibly strong simply because she is from Georgia; while the autobiographical tongue-in-cheek melody “Sleep On My Side” delves into the little differences in character and also quirks between Megan and a guy she used to date that wasn’t going to work out. “Mustang Or Me”, another break up song, speaks about another personal breakup that Megan had, and the fact that she was so torn up about the ending of the relationship that she wasn’t sure if she was going to break down first or the car she was driving at the time. Lucky then ends with the only out-and-out love song on the album- “Sad Songs For Sad People”, with Megan singing about the guy she’s in a relationship with, that ‘…I guess it’s probably time, I say somethin’ ’bout those eyes, and your smile, you know what it does to me, ’cause of you, I got somethin’ new to sing, I write sad songs for sad people, somethin’ ’bout the pain, I want every word to hurt like blue eyes cryin’ in the rain, they say, “Do what you love,” and that’s just what I do. I write sad songs, I love sad songs, I write sad songs for sad people, but I wrote this love song for you…’
I usually come up with the hook first, and every one of my songs are based on personal experiences. I have a hard time just making stuff up, so I usually think of situations that I’m going through. I do have a big personality (laughs) and I’m very in touch with my feelings. And with whatever situation I’m going through, I’m thinking…how can I make this clever, or how can I say this in an intelligent, smart way? So I take my personal experiences and situations, and try to make something out of it that’s intriguing.
I’ve thought about that [the second album] and those projects, for sure. I’ve got several songs recorded and stored away but I think it will be a minute before we get to those because I want to be able to tour everywhere with ‘Lucky’ first. I feel like if I were to record another album without going everywhere I can with these songs first people will be upset!
I’m a single white male, so Megan Moroney’s music shouldn’t resonate with me that much. But it does! Who would’ve thought? But anyway, Megan’s vocals are crazily awesome, and you all need to listen to this album- to hear one of the strongest country debuts since Anne Wilson’s My Jesus. Similar in style to Carly Pearce, Miranda Lambert, and Lainey Wilson; Megan’s debut project reminds us that it’s ok to try new things and take risks sometimes- because when you do fail at things when you are young (or at any age, actually!), you can then get back up and start again. Megan, like her contemporaries Haley Mae Campbell and Alana Springsteen, has a brilliant career ahead of her, and I can’t wait to hear what is next. Well done, Megan, you deserve all the praise and then some more!
4 songs to listen to: Girl In The Mirror, Why Johnny, God Plays A Gibson, Mustang Or Me
RIYL: Carly Pearce, Lainey Wilson, Maddie & Tae, Kelsea Ballerini, RaeLynn, Hailey Whitters, Tenille Arts