Sounds Like: Bonnie Raitt, circa 1989, covering Taylor Swift's 1989
For Fans of: Brothers Osborne, Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club, Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves' CMT Crossroads
Why You Should Pay Attention: "I've cussed on a Sunday, I've cheated and I've lied," confesses Texas-born, Nashville-residing Maren Morris on "My Church," her new single about finding redemption through the dial of the FM radio. But with the snappy pop doo-wop of Meghan Trainor, the lyrical spitfire of Musgraves and a set of booming vocals that can gospel howl one moment and shoot raspy twang the next, she spins those sins into surefire singles. Morris came to town as a songwriter after serving time as an artist on the Lone Star scene, snagging cuts with Kelly Clarkson and Tim McGraw, but the performing bug never faded — and, courtesy of only the occasional local gig, she grew to be one of Music City's most promising new voices. Country's currently enamored with the soul tradition, and Morris has it in heaps: with songs like the sultry, R&B-tinged "I Wish I Was," she's the girl Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" could be crushing on.
She Says: "I think being solely a songwriter helped with perspectives," Morris explains about the years where crafting songs for others was her main priority. "I learned to write from different points of view and not just something I would say. Being the everyman in the writing room helps a lot: you have to be a real collaborator and selfless, and not have ego when you walk in there. That's the antithesis of the artist mentality."
Hear for Yourself: "My Church" has playful, but never preachy, soul-swagger. Marissa R. Moss