By Jof Owen
As heart-breaking as it is hilarious, Megan Moroney’s unflinchingly honest exploration of the joy and pain of falling in and out of love is filled with the kind of songs that made Dolly, Loretta and Kacey household names.
1. I’m Not Pretty
3. Tennessee Orange
4. Kansas Anymore
5. Girl in the Mirror
6. Another on the Way
7. Traitor Joe
8. Why Johnny
9. God Plays A Gibson
10. Georgia Girl
11. Sleep on My Side
12. Mustang or Me
13. Sad Songs for Sad People
As heart-breaking as it is hilarious, Megan Moroney’s unflinchingly honest exploration of the joy and pain of falling in and out of love is filled with the kind of songs that made Dolly, Loretta and Kacey household names. Fierce, funny and deliciously acerbic, Lucky captures the best and worst bits of being in love, all delivered with a hairdresser’s convivial humour and down-to-earth conversational charm.
There aren’t many better ways to begin an album than with a song that’s already the best country single released this year, and with its 70s FM-dial production and polished countrypolitan flourishes, ‘I’m Not Pretty’ is by far and away exactly that. Putting a brave face on her paranoia, Megan imagines her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend bad-mouthing her to her friends as she scrolls through her Instagram.
We don’t love Blair Waldorf because she’s a bitch, we love her because we know deep down, she isn’t. Beneath the prickly one-liners and cut-a-bitch country sass of ‘I’m Not Pretty’, we know that Megan Moroney is just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.
What makes Lucky so extraordinary is the enormous heart at the soft centre of its songs. Scratch the surface and a simple enough country song about a Georgia Bulldog fan betraying her allegiances by wearing a different football team’s colours for a boy is also a disquisition on how easily women can lose their sense of individuality in relationships when they try to measure their worth in a man’s world.
‘Tennessee Orange’ captures that stage of letting his opinions become her opinions and seeking his approval for everything, saying “we’ instead of “I” and flaking on girls' nights out because she’d rather be cuddled up on his corner sofa wearing his football socks and watching him play Super Smash Bros all night.
It's a slippery slope from cutesy coupledom to dysfunctional co-dependency, and ‘Girl in the Mirror’ takes place very much in the back third of the storyline that began in ‘Tennessee Orange’. That moment when you suddenly realise that you’ve stopped doing all the things that make you feel like you're "you", when your self-confidence has been shrunken down, when your friends are all his friends and you don’t remember who you even were before him. “You can’t love the boy more than you love the girl in the mirror,” she proudly declares in its denouement.
Heartbreak might be ungendered but Lucky feels like a distinctly woman’s experience of it. And at a time when country music is having a moment with the Great-and-Serious-Male-Artist, there is something refreshingly subversive about the way Megan Moroney sets her stories in feminine-coded spaces like hair salons and nightclub bathrooms. They exist within a canon of songs about struggle and self-acceptance, spanning Kitty Wells’ ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ to Dolly Parton’s ‘Just Because I’m A Woman’ and on into Miranda Lambert’s ‘Ugly Lights’ and Carly Pearce’s ‘Messy’.
Megan Moroney is like the Elle Woods of country, capable of turning an archetype that’s normally considered shallow and frivolous into a fully-fledged feminist superhero with depth and heart. Writing about intimacy in a way that’s relatable and poetic, she’s able to switch seamlessly between hilariously cutting takedowns to life-affirming slogans for the newly single girl.
They say it takes half the length of a relationship to get over its ending, and if that’s true then the one that inspired these songs must have lasted a little under an hour and a half. By the end of the album, she’s left with a patched up broken heart and a bulging notebook full of sad songs for sad people, and whoever it was that inspired them feels like the least interesting part of the whole story.
You really don’t mess with a Georgia Girl. Bend and snap.
Lucky is out on Friday 5 May via Sony Nashville / Columbia Records
For more on Megan Moroney, see below: