The short version: Lauren Morrow’s self-titled EP is short, but it’s loaded with richness.
The long version: Change can either be the worst or best thing to happen to a band. When certain people ask for more of the same while others ask for innovation, it only serves to highlight why artists should follow their own route.
Sure, I was disappointed to hear Lauren Morrow depart the Whiskey Gentry considering I only discovered that band last year, but she was a huge reason I loved the band anyway. Her sharp, story-driven songwriting style put her in an elite class, and better yet, she had a knack for catchy melodies and strong hooks that only bolstered her work.
And really, the current story of the Whiskey Gentry is hard to piece together. It’s hard to tell if it’s a complete departure or simply Morrow taking a break (the details have been well … nonexistent). Either way, I knew I wasn’t going to miss her newest self-titled EP.
The best part about this EP is that the foundation of Morrow’s talents is still evident in her solo music. Whereas the Whiskey Gentry’s 2017 album, Dead Ringer was about the joys of being a band making music, this EP is more personal and stripped back. These four songs are only meant to act as a transition into the next chapter, but it seems like Morrow’s future is bright.
“Viki Lynn” furthers Morrow’s strengths as a songwriter able to weave out complete stories one verse at a time. In this instance, she fleshes out the story of her mother and her upbringing without sugarcoating some of the darker details.
The next two tracks are much simpler, but it’s here where Morrow’s other strengths shine through – her skills at emotional interpretation and a knack for strong melodies. “I Don’t Think About You At All” highlights the former element, lifting the melody from Waylon Jennings’ “Dreaming My Dreams With You” to craft a straightforward country song (the title says it all). “Mess Around” blends piano and organ together to craft a more jovial mood, acting as the stronger kiss-off track between the two.
“Barbara Jean” takes the same approach “I Don’t Think About You At All” does by being a slower country song, only this time around the focus is on murder. While Morrow once again fleshes out the story wonderfully, it’s almost played a bit too low-key for the listener to really invest in and hold onto the track.
Stylistically, Morrow’s music reminds me of pure, straightforward country music. Not traditional or neo-traditional country … just country, with the focus always being on the lyrics and the emotion with the trademark instruments filling in where they need to do the job.
Again, this EP is only meant to serve as a transition into Morrow’s next chapter, so while one could argue the conversation should be reserved for the eventual full album, I’d argue that this EP only serves to highlight why people need to listen to Morrow now (especially if they missed the Whiskey Gentry). Morrow is the kind of artist I like talking about – a natural talent who is quickly rising the ranks as one of country music’s greatest songwriters.
Best tracks: “Viki Lynn,” “Mess Around”