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Maren Morris

GIRL – 2019 (Columbia Nashville)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Maren Morris

Maren Morris, who had a huge pop hit with "The Middle," is never going to be anybody's ideal traditional country singer. Although, thankfully, there isn't anything that mind-numbingly beat-driven on her "GIRL" album, this is a full-length that will likely appeal as much to Morris' pop fans, as her country followers.

The first great song, "A Song For Everything," addresses that mysterious intersection between one's favorite songs and significant life events. Indeed, there's a song for nearly every vivid memory. Morris sings it beautifully, with a Dolly-like vibrato in her voice. Morris' duet with Brandi Carlile on "Common," finds her singing in a far tougher tone. Although its words express a worthy sentiment, its lyric is nowhere close to either artist's most powerful words - particularly Carlile's.

"Flavor" owes little, to nothing, to country music. It has a thumping, slightly reggae groove. It might even have a chance of becoming a pop hit. "Gold Love" is also a forgettable pop trifle. "Great Ones," which returns Morris' sonic to a bubbling reggae bass line, is okay - for a Katy Perry soundalike, that is. "Make Out With Me" is set to one of those all too common finger-snap tracks. The melodic groove draws upon oldies rock music - think Little Big Town's "Girl Crush."

Another finger-snapping groove song, "RSVP," finds Morris doing predictable pop moves, while "Hell and Back" at least leans a little closer to country sounds. "The Bones," another finger-snap track (this album is chock full of 'em) is a sweet, thoughtful love song. It's not until Morris gets to "Good Woman" that the listener is reminded again of Morris' fine, country-ish singing voice. Like "A Song For Everything," Morris is always at her vocal best whenever singing with a quieter, more vulnerable approach, which she applies here.

Morris closes with a powerful piano ballad, "Shade." As good as it is, though, it's just a little too little too late. She sings it in a Miranda Lambert-esque come-hither voice, which is irresistible. Unfortunately, though, there's too much on "Girl" that's just too easy to resist.