This quote is from a Billboard Article published on Jan. 7 of this year. Maren Morris said this right after she had been signed to Sony Nashville, and while she was in the middle of creating her debut album Hero. Before listening to this record, this is what you have to keep in mind. Yes, Hero is filed under country on iTunes, and yes it will most likely be up for country Grammy Awards, but as Morris said herself, she never set out to make a country record.
The country music on Hero is woven throughout most of the 11 tracks, but is most blatantly there on "My Church," "I Could Use A Love Song," "Rich" and two of the bonus tracks, "Bummin' Cigarettes" and "Space." "Love Song" is a track that can't be skipped over, even though it doesn't have the same loud, brash punch as the three songs before it in the tracklist. The soft, more mellow production and compelling songwriting demand a listen, but in a different way than any other track on Hero seems to be able to do. "My Church" and "Rich" have a similarly infused country and soulful rock sound, making these songs destined to be two of Morris's signatures.
"Bummin' Cigarettes" and "Space" are only available if you purchase the deluxe version of the album from Target, but these two songs make the extra trip to Target or the shipping costs worth it. The two tracks are probably the most country songs on the EP and could be a hint into the direction Morris could go if she decided to make a fully country record.
And of course, the pop is there. It shows up at the start of the record in the peppy "Sugar," continues into Morris's second single and the ultimate pop-country jam "80s Mercedes," and very much so in "Just Another Thing" and "How It's Done." These pop songs are a dealbreaker for many, but they're good songs. Don't overlook them just because they're not country.
When it comes to how this will affect the women of country movement, this record is a game changer. Morris co-produced the whole record, and she's one of the first to do so in a while. She also debuted at No. 1, something that even Kelsea Ballerini wasn't able to do. Morris may not have created a country record, but she created a damn good record, whatever genre it is.
Best tracks: I Wish I Was, I Could Use A Love Song, Once, My Church
Throwaway tracks: Drunk Girls Don't Cry
Overall rating: 4 ½ crowns