Maren Morris’ 2016 album Hero wears its pop influences proudly, evoking Sheryl Crow’s earthy songwriting and the brassy attitude of Shania Twain in many places. Morris also has several instances on Hero where she shows her love of the casually cool, island-reared vocal cadences of Rihanna, who was presented with MTV’s Video Vanguard honor at the 2016 VMAs last night, August 28th. Recently, Morris made those connections even clearer with an acoustic cover of Rihanna’s “Higher” posted to her Instagram.
Arriving at the tail end of Rihanna’s 2016 album Anti, “Higher” is a brief, two-minute cut that incorporates part of a Gamble and Huff composition and runs thick with whiskey-addled lonely desperation. “So pardon if I’m impolite, I just really need your ass with me,” Morris begins in the video recorded before her performance at Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse, New York on Keith Urban’s Ripcord World Tour. Like Rihanna’s original, Morris’ version makes the anguished vocal melody the star of the show, pushing to the top of her range with each new plea for company.
In addition to her touring duties with Urban, Morris – whose new single “80s Mercedes” is out now – was also recently revealed to be part of the next CMT Crossroads, opposite Alicia Keys. The episode will air December 2nd at 10 p.m. ET.