If it sounds a little self-reverential, it’s because it has to be. Maren Morris has been battling pigeon holes long enough, and she’s ready to scream phoenix. I’m always here for artists doing this.
The metaphors are all present. Take a read through the lyrics on her new EP The Bridge. Then check out the 2-song video with it’s colors, bridges, and fires. This is about the country music machine. This is about gender/race/fill-in-the-blank equality. This is about not letting their labels define your identity.
It might still be pop-country, but this time it really has to be. Take extra note of the tropes. Morris is the rare artist who can write this effectively on multiple levels. Spin this as a modern country anthem or a socio-political screed. She’s come a long way since “My Church,” and hallelujah to that.
I’m done filling a cup with a hole in the bottom
I’m taking an axe to the tree
The rot at the roots is the root of the problem
But you wanna blame it on me
I hung around longer than anyone should
You’ve broken my heart more than anyone could
Trying to stop me won’t do you no good
I’ve already planted the seeds
Do you hear that
It’s the sound of a new wind blowing
Do you feel that
Heart letting go of the weight it’s been holding
I’ve made miracles in the shadows
But now that I’m out in the sun
I’ll never stop growing
Wherever I’m going
Hope I’m not the only one
You’re going to want to listen to both songs on the EP together and stick around through the whole video – it doesn’t stop with “The Tree.” She’s just getting started.
Like her southern-Zen brethren Sturgill Simpson, Maren is learning about what it means to just let go. You don’t scream phoenix at the people pigeon-holing you, you scream it from within yourself. It’s not a call from the mountain top so much as a release from deep within.
You make miracles in the shadows. You commit to growth. You recommit to hope, even when it’s all you’ve got. You don’t fix the world, because you can’t. You fix up your own resilience, because it’s the only way to limit the suffering.
In the shade of a layered toxic relationship breakup song, notice where she’s directing the words “Get The Hell Out Of Here,”
I handed out my heart on paper plates
I believed all the love, I believed all the hate
So to sharin’ every part of me so I don’t disappear
Go on, get the hell out of here
I do the best I can
But the more I hang around here the less I give a damn
So to all the doubts and demons that I held so dear
Go on, get the hell out of here
Remove yourself. And, remove your self. Their labels are not your identity – never are and never were.
Damn Maren, you know what love is.
ps. My favorite version of “My Church” is in this Tiny Desk appearance – I remember watching it after seeing her on The Grammy’s and thinking “this is a heck of a week she’s having!” Take the 12 minutes to watch her and her friends have fun. It’s raw – and you’ll want to remember how tiring bro-country was in 2017 for added perspective. Also, she says she loved Anderson Paak’s Tiny Desk too, which earned her immediate cred-points with me. I love this under-produced side + her genuine humor.