NYCS First Impression: Craig Morgan ‘God, Family, Country’
Craig Morgan is no stranger to country music. In fact, the 55-year old Tennessee native had his Grand Ole Opry debut back in 2000, which was the same year that his debut self-titled album was released. After eight albums, one of which being a collection of hits, God, Family, Country is here to reintroduce the artist in a way that could not have been anticipated for the Morgan family.
In 2016, almost directly after his last album A Whole Lot More to Me, Morgan’s son, Jerry, lost his life during a boating accident. Artists and devoted listeners of country music were devastated to hear about the news, feeling a sliver of the pain and sorrow that the family was suddenly in the face of during such misfortune. A silent gloom fell upon the genre and was only lifted by the transformative “The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost”.
The single was the first we’ve heard of Morgan since the loss of his 19-year old son, with the exception of “4 x Life” featuring Maggie Rose. Still, this is the comeback that fans were waiting for. Written and produced by the high-esteemed musician and veteran, “The Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost” is one of the most vulnerable and honest productions in a landslide of emotional tracks in country music. One cannot miss the grief evident in the lyrics that are amplified by the heavy ache in Morgan’s tone; still, a sense of hope remains.
“In the mornings I wake up, give her a kiss, head to the kitchen / Pour a cup of wake-me-up and try to rouse up some ambition / Go outside, sit by myself but I ain’t alone / I’ve got the Father, my son, and the Holy Ghost”
God, Family Country breathes as something so much more than a ninth studio album: it’s a way of moving forward from the headlines and conversation regarding Jerry and the emotional healing involved by reflecting heavily on past experiences. “This album is based on everything that’s happened in my life and my career,” Craig said in a press release. “I feel like I have some of the most quality songs I’ve ever recorded, and there is a new energy here. After all I’ve been through, I’m at one of the most inspired places I’ve ever been.”
There are five new songs as well as remastered versions of previous tracks Morgan recorded through Broken Bow Records. Gavin DeGraw’s “Soldier” is included and taken through a different scope with the distinguished country artist’s perspective of former EMT and service member experience.
“Whiskey” lands as the third mastered production on the project, yet the first to be brand new. The electric guitar arrangement works alongside soothing harmonica subtleties to establish a true, powerhouse country song: dealing with a heartache washed down with whiskey. If there’s one thing this genre is known for it’s the breakup songs, and of course, drinking songs. Jon Pardi combines the two in “Heartache Medication”, Cole Swindell does it with “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and the 2013 “Drunk Last Night” from Eli Young Band takes on the same concept. There’s a wide array of music devoted to this type of story, and it doesn’t dilute the new releases that join them. Though, this new one from Morgan sets the bar for the next wave.
“It runs like a river through my veins / kills my liver, wrecks my brain, makes me numb but I still feel the pain / So I pour and pour, then pour some more ‘til me and the bottle hit the floor / Another shot in the dark won’t stop this heartache / Lord, I hate the taste of whiskey, but I drink it anyway”
“Sippin’ on the Simple Life” and “Going Out Like This” were released within the last few weeks to act as teasers for this album. They show both dimensions of the entertainer, being that each piece is complete in itself and tug at the heartstrings for different reasons. The first is a feel-good summer song that has a Kenny Chesney feel while resembling Scotty McCreery’s “Feelin’ It” or Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”. The latter tries to hold onto a relationship that may have passed its expiration date. It’s a heartfelt ballad that scrambles to fall back in love, similar to the desperation in Darius Rucker’s 2010 “I Got Nothing”.
Morgan’s project is not only for fans of the artist over the years but allows room to welcome new ones into the fold. If you love traditional country sounds with heartfelt lyrics, you will revel in God, Family, Country.
- “The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost”
- “Going Out Like This”
To keep up with Craig Morgan, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
God, Family, Country is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more recently released music on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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