When we asked David Morris what he’d put on a mixtape for someone if they really wanted to get to know him, he told us that two artists immediately sprung to mind - Tupac and Bruce Springsteen – and it all made absolutely perfect sense.
The singer-songwriter and rapper from Charleston, West Virginia, seamlessly fuses heartfelt, George Strait style country with pinging trap beats and blazing hip hop in a way that feels completely unique. So of course the embattled gangsta rapper and The Boss are the first two artists that come to mind.
Morris' music feels like a blend of the sharply focussed nihilism of Tupac and the small town sensitivity of Springsteen. If Sam Hunt is the Drake of country music, then David Morris is the Kendrick Lamar: wildly inventive but quietly focussed and genuinely humble.
Known for his homegrown visuals, his signature HEARTLAND hat and camo pants, with songs like ‘Does He Know About Us’ and ‘Who Hurt You’, Morris has turned boyfriend country on its head and made it feel fresh and exciting for once. His single from earlier this year, ‘Carrying Your Love’, interpolated the 90s George Strait classic, pitch shifted it and pushed it in front of a TikTok generation that hungrily lapped it up.
But it was ‘Dutton Ranch Freestyle’ that really got our heart racing and our buns jiggling, as Morris sprinkled niche Yellowstone references (“Y'all boys lame like Jamie / Me, I'm more like Kayce / On these tracks I'm Beth 'cause I go crazy”) into a meet-cute story set in a downtown bar with a girl that likes “cheap drinks and tattoos and Morgan Wallen”. It was an absolute banger and unsurprisingly on the Holler stereo for the whole of the summer.
He followed it up with the Broken Heartland EP in October, pulling together ‘Dutton Ranch Freestyle’ with the title track and four tracks from his wonderfully titled ‘Red, White and American Blues’ album from 2020.
The title track is nothing short of sublime. A straight-from-the-shoulder account of everyday life in small town Appalachia that feels like what Born In The USA would have sounded like if Springsteen had grown up listening to Ice Cube.
“Coal miners working, farmers plowing, hard work over talent / Daddy's working late nights all week like he's Jimmy Fallon”, he half raps. “It's a balance, just wishing he could give his kids allowance / But he's paying off medical bills that's in the tens of thousands”
Holler is excited to be premiering the video for ‘Broken Heartland’ co-produced and co-directed by David Morris and Emad Rashidi below.
“We shot the music video for Broken Heartland at the abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in Mercer County, WV”, Morris explained to us about the video. “Some people think it’s haunted, others believe is to be an ancient Native American burial ground. Stories of a sordid past have followed it for decades. I thought it was a fitting setting for the song. Our past can follow us if we let it. Every town, every place, every person has a story. And it’s up to us to try and change that narrative.”
We asked David Morris a few quick questions about his influences, where he comes from and what’s coming up next for him.
Where are you from and how did that influence you?
I’m from Charleston, WV. Growing up there has influenced me so much as a person and an artist. It helped me understand what’s important in life. And what I needed to focus on both personally and musically. I’m still peeling back those layers in every song I write.
What did you grow up listening to?
Everything. Literally. Country, rock, pop, hip-hop, folk, Broadway musicals, everything.
How would you describe your sound?
A blend of everything I love. I’ll let fans and listeners put labels on it.
Tell us a little bit about ‘Broken Heartland’?
Broken Heartland is an observation into life in Appalachia. A window into what it’s like where I grew up. I’m telling my story and the story of people like me.
What inspires you?
Seeing people react to my music. When someone tells me how much they can relate to a song and how much it means to them. That’s an incredibly inspiring feeling.
What’s your favourite song of yours?
The song I’m currently working on at any given time is always my favorite. So that means they’ve all been my favorite at one point.
And what’s your favourite songs of someone else’s?
Bruce Springsteen – ‘The River’
If you could time travel back to any time when would you travel back to?
1975 - Elvis, Springsteen, Dylan, The Eagles, Waylon, Willie, etc so many legends were in their prime. I’d go back and check out a bunch of concerts.
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
What would be your Spice Girls style nickname?
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Continue to trust your gut.
What’s next for you?
More music, more shows, and an album at the top of 2023!
Broken Heartland is out now on Grey Area / Dreamtown USA