Back in 2016, Texas native Maren Morris released her debut album, Hero, and it chisled away country taboos. Known for her innovative sound that doesn’t quite fit into any one box, Maren is once again crossing genre lines with her sophmore effort, GIRL.
Filled with collaborations from Brothers Osborne and Brandi Carlile, Morris incorporates her trademark voice with country twang, snippets of R&B and a strong fusion of pop.
It’s quite the mix on an album that focuses on both the sweet and sensual aspects of Morris’ recent marriage, while also diving into themes of empowerment, encouragement, acceptance, forgiveness and love as well.
Maren is lyrically wrapped up in a marital bliss with husband Ryan Hurd in songs such as “Shade,” “Good Woman,” “The Bones,” “Gold Love,” “Great Ones,” “Make Out With Me” and “To Hell & Back.”
“Gold Love” is Maren’s thanks to a husband who has helped her to heal and who has brought out her best: “Fascinated by the facets of me I hated/The beauty that I kept shaded.” Maren says in “The Bones” that a strong foundation is the key to a healthy, lasting marriage: “When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter/Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter/Let it rain ’cause you and I remain the same”). And in “Good Woman,” she promises always to give her husband her love and devotion.
“GIRL” delivers a message of self-love and grace for any woman who may need encouragement: “Baby girl, don’t you hang your head low/Don’t you lose your halo/Everything’s gonna be OK.”
In “Flavor,” Maren declares that she will do her own thing and be her own person, no matter what criticism she faces: “I’m cooking up my own flavor/Even if it ain’t your style/You only see one layer/Original can take a while.”
“Common” finds Maren teaming up with Brandi Carlile as the two of them sing about seeking common ground in a world filled with division. They feel that humanity “got way too much in common” and ask, “What’s the point in fighting?”
“All My Favorite People” offers a shout-out to some of Maren’s closest friends and all that she loves about them (“Not everybody leaves well enough alone/Stays out of business that ain’t their own/But all my favorite people do”).
Music becomes an emotional outlet through good times and heartbreak in “A Song for Everything.”
Making out and getting under the sheets are the prime directives in “RSVP,” “Great Ones,” “Make Out With Me” and “The Feels.” In the first of those sultry songs, for instance, Maren suggestively asks her husband to make a reservation with her in their bed (the details of which feel like a voyeuristic peek into this couple’s marital intimacy): “Don’t tell me you’ve got better plans/For those velvet hands/ … All you gots to bring your loving/’Cause I ain’t wearing nothing/Nothing you can’t take off me.” Elsewhere in that track, we hear, “The floor is waiting for my black dress to fall/Somewhere in the hall, so don’t take too long.”
We hear several allusions to consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana in songs such as “All My Favorite People,” “Gold Love,” “The Feels,” “Make Out With Me,” “A Song for Everything” and “RSVP.” In “All My Favorite People,” Maren references smoking “a little bit of weed” and enjoying “a little bit of wine, John Prine, and Camel Blues” with friends. Meanwhile, “RSVP” compares her love to “a glass of good whiskey.”
On “Common,” Maren and Brandi Carlile admit that they’re uncertain about who God is in a world filled with so much hatred (“If I’m being honest/I don’t know what God is”).
Profanities such as “d—n,” “h—” and “s—” slip out a few times on “GIRL,” “Flavor,” “Common” and “A Song for Everything.”
The album cover includes a picture of Maren lying in a bed of flowers in a bikini top, an image we’ve cropped for this review.
In an interview with Taste of Country, Maren Morris says of husband Ryan Hurd, “Even in my darkest tunnels … he has seen nothing but beauty.”
I love some of the ways Maren Morris sings about her marriage here. Her husband’s faithful love has obviously inspired a number of these songs. The result is a multifaceted and diverse album that focuses on positivity, uniqueness, self-love and the bond of covenant in marriage.
Despite those strengths, however, there are some problems, too. A number of songs focus on sex and intimacy. A few tracks also include profanity, as well as nods toward alcohol and marijuana.
All in all, GIRL has some positive things to say, especially with regard to the joy and beauty of marriage. But listeners may also find that some of Maren Morris’ intimate glimpses into that union include confessional details that might have been better left in the bedroom.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).