Maren Morris’ second album, Girl, certainly feels and sounds like her type of record, at least based off of the music from her previous album and more recent collaborations, but there’s one glaring issue here: on Girl, it seems that Morris has sanded down some of her sharper sonic edges, hoping to appeal to a larger base in the process. Where Maren’s previous effort found humor in her combativeness (“Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” and “Rich”), Girl instead relishes in a newfound kumbaya without ever expressing anything new or especially deep (“Girl” and “Common”). Even the tracks that are most thematically reminiscent of her prior material, like “Flavor” and “All My Favorite People,” don’t feel nearly as gleefully standoffish, which was part of what gave these motifs and songs their hard-hitting impact. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to appease the haters and attempting to widen your fanbase, until it comes at the cost of your voice as an artist. Equally as puzzling on the album are some oddball production choices, with notably clunky melodies (“Make Out With Me” and “The Feels”) and intrusive sound effects (“Great Ones,” with a squeaking backing noise that’s more distracting than enhancing) popping up randomly. Some of the lyrics also manage to somehow feel both try-hard and underwritten, with lines like “I breathe it in my lungs / I’ve seen it in the flesh / If all we need is love / How the hell did we forget?” being so exhaustingly sanctimonious that it borders on unlistenable.
Maren Morris’ second album, Girl, certainly feels and sounds like her type of record, at least based off of the music from her previous album and more recent collaborations, but there’s one glaring issue here: on Girl, it seems that Morris has sanded down some of her sharper sonic edges, hoping to appeal to a larger base in the process.
Still, Maren does hit some sweet spots on the album that stand out: “Gold Love” would feel at home in a Heartland bar, with its nice southern-rock production, while Maren belts about an unusual love. In a similar vein, “Shade” works as a bluesy track that is evocatively complemented Maren’s singular voice. However, it’s “RSVP” that easily proves the strongest track on the album — the hardly-country/contemporary funk hybrid starts off weird, your ears initially tasked with simply trying to adjust to this sonic switch-up, but soon settles into pure 90’s R&B nostalgic bliss. Maren might not be the vocalist you expect to sing “this floor is waiting for my black dress to fall,” but by the time the song has ended, you’ll have already succumbed to her seductively powerful vocals. It comes out of left-field, but it still manages to feel more like Maren than anything else on the album, in all of her non-conforming glory. And ultimately, this reminder of her wonderful unpredictability proves illustrative of what’s sorely missing from the rest of Girl.