After Meghan Linsey, who came to country stardom in the duo Steel Magnolia, broke off her engagement to her Steel Magnolia partner Joshua Scott Jones (they remain friends), she quickly went to work on a solo project. Linsey covered the OneRepublic hit “Counting Stars” to great acclaim and recorded other songs for her recently released self-titled EP.
The latest single and video from the project, “Try Harder Than That,” is already garnering attention not only for a genre-busting rap mid-song, but also for lyrics that take down the “bro country” movement — including one of its perceived chief culprits, Luke Bryan. Among the lyrical swipes: “Don’t play me a song about tan lines and takin’ a ride ’cause I’m so done with that.” No word on what Bryan thinks of the song, but Linsey, who says she and co-writers Cory Crowder and James Otto penned it “super quick,” tells Rolling Stone Country, “I’ve had nothing but positive response from the guys. I think they like being put in their place!”
In the funny clip, a parade of clueless suitors works their barely discernable charms to win Linsey over, and she continually gives them a thumbs-down. Rapper Bubba Sparxxx hangs out with the blond beauty in a barn and busts some rhymes on a version of the tune (there’s also a “no rap” edit available on iTunes). At first, Sparxxx invites her to hop into his truck before he pulls a bit of a sentimental switcheroo by telling her he’s “just playin’.” He then talks about how much he loves his mama and how, in spite of having been a little shallow in the past, he’s willing to try harder to win over “your pop’s daughter.”
The surprising collaboration could have been cause for concern for Linsey, but she says she wasn’t apprehensive about it at all since the country-rap veteran gave the task an air of authenticity.
“At least I brought in a ‘real’ rapper,” she says. “Bubba is the real deal: a great artist and a smart business man. If I had done the rap myself, I would have been more worried.”
With an overall theme of “getting hurt and coming out stronger on the other side,” the EP runs the emotional gamut. Linsey says the title for powerful closing track “Cocaine and Jesus” came from describing two of her friends.
“I said they were a lot alike — both very extreme — except he’s high on cocaine and she’s high on Jesus,” she explains. “As soon as I said it I knew it was a great hook. I had a writing session with Heather Morgan [Brett Eldredge’s “Beat of the Music”] and we wrote it. That song has a lot of deep meaning. I definitely pulled from personal experience.”
Meghan Linsey’s EP is available now on iTunes and other digital outlets.