Review by Andy Hawes for MP Americana
Everywhere you look within the modern Country scene, you’ll find a plethora of young female artists busily ploughing their own furrow through the tangled corporate web that is the modern Nashville scene.
There is a huge pool of talent out there creating everything form very traditional country and Americana through to glossy and hi-tech Country-Pop. ‘Reckless’, the recently released album by Morgan Wade sits firmly in the Americana Country bracket and sits very comfortably at the least corporate end of the Nashville spectrum – there’s not a hint of Country-Pop anywhere to be found within the grooves of this stunning album and it’s all the better for it.
Morgan Wade’s music sits quite comfortably alongside artists such as the wonderful Ashley McBryde (whose latest album I reviewed for Metal Planet a few months ago) in that it’s completely self-written/co-written, it doesn’t follow Nashville norms and her image – all tattoos and imperfectly coiffured hair – is definitely not the squeaky-clean, prettified airbrush glow that many artists portray.
You get the feeling that, despite her tender years, Morgan Wade has more than paid her dues in the dodgy dive-bars and the lyrics definitely suggest that she’s living the rock n roll lifestyle to the full. It’s refreshing, genuine and very believable.
The production is clean and tight, while at the same time having a delightful rawness that is missing from a lot of modern Country. The electric guitars snarl and bite with just the right amount of twang, ably supported by acoustic guitars and mandolins: nothing is overdone.
Wilder Days’ opens the album with chiming, chugging Telecaster guitars and irresistible melodies. It sets the tone for the album quite beautifully. Wade’s vocals are raw, personal and impassioned, a trend that continues all the way through the album, largely because the lyrics sound as though they are written from her own personal experience – you really get the feeling that she is living this stuff! Quite how anyone can make a killer hookline out of the line ‘You say you hate the smell of cigarette smoke’ deserves some respect too, and it’s immediately apparent that lyrically, this album isn’t ordinary – they are not the typical lyrics you’ll hear in a lot of the corporate Nashville releases.
Wilder Days’ seems to be about an older man from Chicago who Wade is having a ‘thing’ with – ‘You say I’m too young for you, you’re just scared I’m too right for you’, she purrs before the ‘I wish I’d known you in your Wilder Days’ pay-off at the end of the chorus. On ‘Other Side’ she sings ‘You knew my skin back before I had all these tattoos, You remember me on late nights strung out on pills and booze.’
In ‘Mend’ she sings ‘I was out of my head as I climbed in your bed’ and ‘No words spoken, I’m so broken, I hope you can mend me.’ This is hardly the typical Nashville lyrical fare and is all the better because of it – this is the darker side of real life, love and heartbreak in the dive bars, motels and small towns of middle America, yet somehow it feels true and relevant, even if you live on the outskirts of a city in Cambridgeshire, England (or probably anywhere else, for that matter!)
Singling out individual songs is a wee bit tricky as this album is a very complete piece of work, but if pushed, I’d say that ‘Wilder Days’ is pretty much the perfect single release; catchy as hell, with a delightful vocal and a clean and sizzling production. ‘Last Cigarette’ is another belter with an impassioned hookline; the ‘last cigarette’ being the metaphor for one last night together in a doomed relationship.
Title track ‘Reckless’ is a stunning mid-paced slice of guitar-fuelled Americana with a lovely guitar solo full of aching string bends and passionate note flurries echoing the heartbreak in the lyrics.
This is one hell of an album. If you like artists such as the aforementioned Ashley McBryde, who are very happy to stick two fingers up to the corporate pop-country world of Nashville and produce raw, passionate and real Americana/Country then you should investigate this album immediately.
Lyrically, it’s raw, dark, real and not always comfortable and musically it is warm, impassioned and highly melodic. In short, it’s an absolute gem that Morgan Wade should certainly be very proud of!
Follow Morgan Wade: Instagram – https://instagram.com/morganwademusic
Twitter – https://twitter.com/themorganwade
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/morganwademusic
Website – https://www.morganwademusic.com