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Morgan Wade - Psychopath (Album Review)

Monday, 04 September 2023 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Matthew Berinato

Although some people are genuinely fearless, tackling everything in their path without flinching, can that really be classified as brave if they don’t experience apprehension beforehand? Surely real courage is when someone feels scared about the road ahead but still pushes forward? In which case, if it weren’t already synonymous with a former Nashville darling, ‘Fearless’ would definitely be the perfect title for Morgan Wade’s bold and beautiful return.

Having experienced depression and alcoholism by the time 2021’s ‘Reckless’ saw Rolling Stone magazine and the New York Times hail her as a once-in-a-generation talent, it couldn’t have been easy for Wade to suddenly, and very much unexpectedly, find herself in the kind of spotlight that would test the mettle of any recovering addict who’d self medicated to cope with social anxiety.

Yet, even though she must have felt the pressure of newfound fame and increased expectation, this more worldly, wise and, sometimes shockingly, revealing second outing only confirms that Wade, whose weathered voice still twangs with the endearing duality of an old soul and vulnerable young person, is one uncompromising, gutsy artist.

Having defied premature predictions of an early grave, 27 Club presents a disarmingly candid account of negotiating fame’s doubled-edged sword without any thought of self-censorship. “And some nights when I’m feeling suicidal I could reach for the gun, I could reach for the bottle but it’s great, at least now I’m getting paid,” she sings.

Elsewhere, Phantom Feelings finds her still haunted by the ex who fuelled much of ‘Reckless’, Losers Look Like Me pines for the comparative simplicity of being a rebellious 16-year-old who “didn’t know the world was so damn mean” and show-stopping piano ballad Guns and Roses, which features a hypnotic, raw vocal turn, embodies Wade’s ability to portray internal struggles when staring down hard choices.

When she first arrived on the scene Wade was prematurely earmarked as outlaw country’s next big thing. Leaning more into a heartland rock, vintage transatlantic pop and Americana direction on ‘Reckless’, she bravely shot down those assumptions without a care for what others thought. So it’s no surprise that, despite some big shot co-writers having contributed to this effort, and a little more polish here and there, her authenticity or self-determined artistic growth remain intact. 

Where the arrangements on ‘Reckless’ were comparatively restrained and almost unimaginative, which actually suited the lyrics’ intimate, emotionally imprisoned bent, this time Wade and returning producer Sadler Vaden have delved into their love of Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac and huge crossover hooks with a richer stylistic palette. 

By employing everything from pure country (the title track) and gospel R&B (Want) to retro-pop nostalgia (80s Movie) and a hybrid of grunge and woozy indie (Meet Somebody) the record’s more cultured storytelling has been endowed with the stylistic scope such emotionally intricate cuts deserve.

If one track epitomises Wade’s courageous approach to ‘Psychopath’, it’s Alanis. Having realised the similarities between hers and Morrisette’s experiences, Wade tellingly reveals, over a song that boasts so many nods to ‘Jagged Little Pill’ it might seem gimmicky, were it not so convincingly autobiographical, “I know how to be brave, keep the demons away, all because of you.” In other words: “feel the fear and do it anyway…with integrity, honesty and style.”

Morgan Wade Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon September 04 2023 - BERLIN Privatclub (Germany)
Tue September 05 2023 - HAMBURG Nochtspeicher (Germany)
Wed September 06 2023 - MUNICH Strom (Germany)
Fri September 08 2023 - AMSTERDAM Melkweg (Netherlands)
Sun September 10 2023 - COLOGNE Helios 37 (Germany)
Wed September 13 2023 - PARIS LES ETOILES (France)

Wed September 27 2023 - COLUMBIA South Carolina - Senate (USA)
Thu September 28 2023 - ATHENS Georgia - Georgia Theatre (USA)
Fri September 29 2023 - CHATTANOOGA Tennessee - Signal - Concert Hall (USA)

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