Maren Morris Says Next Album Will Go Back to Texas Roots

You know how this drill works. Make sure your tray tables are in their full upright position, make sure all electronic devices are set to airplane mode, and don’t believe a pop country star when they say they’re going back to their roots until you actually hear it.

Now granted, never say never, lest you have to eat those words later. As has been evidenced by numerous mainstream projects lately, country is actually hot right now in country music. Thomas Rhett of all people just turned in a surprisingly country record and new single. Granted, just because something is country, doesn’t mean it’s good. But this isn’t 2015 anymore. Things are changing, and for the better, however achingly slow and with notable setbacks.

But remember when Sam Hunt told us he was going to get more traditional, and then all he had to show for it was one song that was kind of country, and a terrible sample of Webb Pierce’s “There Stands The Glass” on the single “Hard to Forget”? Yeah, so when it comes to stuff like this you got to make like a Missourian and say “Show Me.”

All that said, backstage at the ACM Awards, Maren Morris apparently told the virtual press scrum after the awards that she’s got most of the songs ready to go for her next album, and it’s just a matter of getting into the studio.

The Arlington, Texas-native also said, “My last record was very pop-leaning. I think with this one, I’m coming back to this Texas, rootsy style that I grew up in. I think it’s got a lot of Americana elements, a lot of rootsiness. It feels like me, but a very stripped-down version of me, and it’s still extremely fun and energetic. There’s a little bit of everything!”

Immediately the cynical country music brain starts to compute this information as either being a smokescreen, or tries to spot the marketing angle with this, or decries it as outright bullshit. Hey, we can’t be blamed. How many times have we been at this very spot before and burned? And with how pop her last record was, it wouldn’t take much for it to be more rootsy.

But if Maren Morris wants to make a record that is “Texas, rootsy style,” who are we to stand in her way, no matter what the marketing calculus is behind it? As she says herself, her last record was “very pop-leaning.” If nothing else, it’s refreshing to hear her personally admit this, especially after many a critic was told they were wrong in their assessment that she wasn’t country.

Let’s not forget, Maren Morris commenced her career with the the not entirely bad song “My Church” about how her Sunday sermon is listening to Cash and Hank. That’s a little hard to believe, but with the way Nashville’s Music Row gobbles up artists and spits them out as product, who knows what Maren Morris’s original influences and motivations were?

And again, this is a different era. If Jon Pardi, Luke Combs, and now Thomas Rhett and others can find success with more country-sounding tracks, it opens the door for others. Country is very much a copycat industry. So if country is the next trend to catch fire, don’t be surprised to see it from all kinds of unexpected sectors.

But ultimately, you can’t blame anyone for saying “I’ll believe it when I see it.” After all, this is Maren Morris. But if she wants to do something more country or rootsy, more power to her, no matter the marketing angle behind it.

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