It’s a rainy day in Nashville when Consequence sits down with Maren Morris, and she’s not too happy about it. “My son’s birthday party is tomorrow, and it’s outside,” she explains.
The release of her third album Humble Quest sees Maren Morris in a very different place from that of her 2019 LP, GIRL. A global pandemic, entering motherhood, and the loss of a close friend and collaborator have all contributed to this present collection, one Morris describes as a “rootsier, but still sonically ambitious record.” At the end of the day, she still sees herself as a country artist (and her trove of ACM and CMA awards are there to underscore the point).
The crossover success of both her enormous 2018 collaboration with Zedd, “The Middle,” along with the more stripped-down spread of Grammy-nominated “The Bones” might have provided an opportunity for people to assign her pop-country status, but Humble Quest leaves no room for confusion.
It’s an interesting time to be a woman in country, especially one as confident and outspoken as Morris — it wasn’t so long ago that Nashville radio executive Keith Hill opined that if men like Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton are the lettuce of the salad of country music, then women are the tomatoes, and should therefore be used more sparingly. Many artists don’t want to speak up or move against the status quo. Maren Morris is not one of them.
To assemble Humble Quest, out tomorrow (March 25th), she describes a bit of an intentional course correction. Following the birth of her son, she’d planned a few months off. “The pandemic forced me to take a few more off,” she says, smiling. She had no desire to write throughout that time, seeing only industry standstill around her. When it did come time to pick up her guitar, the result was a slew of incredibly sad songs.
“I can’t even listen to them now, because I don’t want to revisit that time,” she explains. “I probably needed to get it out on the page, but I don’t think it was supposed to be for anyone else but me, the writer, to work through that day.”