Here at Holler, we spend a lot of our day listening to albums - whether for reviews, research, or just of our record collections - so, in our “me” time, we've become playlist people.
Sometimes, you just need the spontaneity of being told what you want to listen to. Unfortunately, a side effect of that is being able to recite a song line for line while not knowing for certain who the artist is.
Maren Morris is not one of those artists. Her warm vibrato and incredible range are distinct, as is her songwriting. Maren's introduction to us all was through her major label debut, Hero, in 2016, as well as in the formation of the supergroup The Highwomen, which only solidified our status as a fan.
Last night (Saturday April 29), Morris headlined Merlefest, her debut performance at the festival. Now, it's unquestionable that Morris is a force to be reckoned with; don’t let her petite frame fool you, inside of it is a giant, soulful and beckoning voice.
Morris opened with 'The Furthest Thing', taken from her most recent album, Humble Quest, before diving right into the first track of the record and lead single 'Circles Around This Town'. After warming up the crowd on a damp and chilly night with 'I Can’t Love You Anymore', she dipped into some of her older work with fan-favorite '80s Mercedes'.
Playing a set that touched on each of her major label records, Maren had a little something for every listener. For those of us who have been fans of hers since the release of Hero, it was the perfect blend of hits and favorites. There were songs to sing along with, songs to dance to and songs “about a breakup and then ruining his whole life”.
Booking Morris to headline the third night of the festival seemed to be an appeal to the younger generation of attendees, with her performance certainly showing why it was a wise decision.
She is an artist whose music doesn’t fit into the tight little boxes we put genres like Bluegrass in. Instead, she fuses pop, R&B, country and other styles to create something that is uniquely her own, while also appealing to the masses.
Morris' performance was a sharp left turn; a welcome change of pace for some of us who were enjoying a bit of diversity at what has always steadfastly been a bluegrass festival.
Maren Morris - Setlist
Take from Morris' set at Merlefest 2023 in North Carolina - Saturday, April 29, 2023:
For more coverage of Merlefest 2023, see below: