Megan Moroney Proves She Knows All About Liars, Cheaters + Bad Boyfriends on ‘Lucky’ [Interview]
Megan Moroney's Lucky album leads with steel guitar and a feud, and then it gets really country.
It even ends with a wonderfully ironic love song called "Sad Song for Sad People."
"I write sad songs for sad people," she begins around acoustic guitar and faint organ.
"There's something about the pain / I want every word / Like 'Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain / They say do what you love / And that's just what I do / I write sad songs for sad people / But I wrote this love song for you."
"It's just the music that I love, what I grew up on," Moroney tells Taste of Country after brushing aside any idea of album release nervousness. "It's what I like writing — it's what I listen to ... Doing anything else, I don't think, would feel authentic to what I'm trying to do."
Her confidence carries the project. In fact, you'll struggle to find a debut album as fully realized as Lucky. Shades of Sheryl Crow ("Another on the Way"), Kacey Musgraves ("Sad Songs ...") and Miranda Lambert ("Girl in the Mirror") inform her vulnerable songwriting. The experiences are uniquely personal.
Take "Girl in the Mirror," for example: "I think that kind of summarizes my dating life," Moroney tells Evan Paul at the Taste of Country Nights studio.
The album-leading track "I'm Not Pretty" feels like it may do the same. She adds modern touchstones to a timeless country theme here and throughout her Sony Music Nashville debut — a fun game to play is to count the classic song titles she drops casually throughout.
"Somewhere out there my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s scrolling through my Instagram / Tearing me down, passing the phone around like there’s nothing better to talk about," she sings during a chorus one could label as whimsical if the words weren't so pointed.
"Keep on telling yourself / I'm not pretty," Moroney adds. It's a flex.
The Savannah-born, University of Georgia-raised singer came to country music fairly recently. It took a devastating injury to get her focused on guitar and songwriting. Then, a big lift from Sugarland's Kristian Bush. He produced Lucky and everything she's ever recorded, but beyond that, he gave her dream the kind of credibility young musicians need, if only to keep mom and dad from giving the "Get a real job" speech.
"I think my first 'What is going on?' moment for my mom was the fact that I was getting to work with Kristian Bush," she'll recall during a deep, but playful conversation about her life and music.
"I started as an intern with Kristian in college," Moroney remembers. "I was a publishing intern for him and his brother, and now he's producing my stuff — and it's insane because I grew up listening to Sugarland. That's all my mom listened to."
Lucky dropped on May 5, one month after Moroney won a CMT Music Award for Breakthrough Female Video of the Year. She thanked her mom that night, but until now hasn't fully explained why. The questions below have been lightly edited for clarity.
You mentioned your mom in your CMT Music Awards acceptance speech and told the story about how she drove through the night to get you there because you missed your plane. Did you mean to the CMTs or to your music video shoot?
I probably should have clarified, but it was on the way to the video shoot. We shot it the day after Christmas, and that was when all the Southwest flights ... got canceled. Everyone was stranded. My flight was supposed to be at two, I would get there at four. It just kept getting delayed, and then at 9:30PM it finally got canceled. But I had to be getting my glam done at 7:30AM the next morning!
So I was like, "OK, it's 9PM now and I'm in Savannah, Ga., and I need to get to Nashville, Tenn., by 7:30AM tomorrow." My mom was like — she immediately got her car and picked me up at the airport. I dunno. She's the best.
We drove through the night and I don't know how I don't have bags under my eyes for the video shoot, because I did not sleep the day before we shot that.
There's a lot of cheated-and-busted relationships on this record. Which song more than any tells your story?
I think honestly, "Girl in the Mirror." That wasn't necessarily written about a certain relationship — it's more what I find myself doing in relationships. It's just basically about putting the other person first because you want it to work, even though it's not supposed to work and you shouldn't try to make it work.
I wrote that with Jessie Jo Dillon and Matt Jenkins, and we talked for like three hours. I'd met Matt at a writer's round but we hadn't written [together], and I didn't know Jessie Jo. We talked for like three hours and I'm pretty much an open book in writes. We wrote the song in 30 or 45 minutes.
How do you go back to Georgia, being a cheerleader when you were there, playing "Tennessee Orange"? Do people understand?
So I wasn't a cheerleader at (University of Georgia). I was a cheerleader in high school, and I thought I was gonna go be a cheerleader, but then I hurt my knee and learned how to play guitar. But I did go to Georgia, diehard sorority girl, all the things.
I was nervous to play it at first, but I think because I say, "I still want the Dogs to win" at the end, I redeem myself and they forgive me.
Who is your dream duet in country music?
Probably Miranda Lambert or Chris Stapleton.
You ran into Miranda Lambert one time, didn't you?
I did. I accidentally stepped on her at Red Door. This was when I was visiting Nashville. I had just gotten my fake ID taken at Nudies on Broadway, but somehow Red Door let me in with my second backup fake ID (Laughs). I was in there, I was literally in sweatpants. I stepped back and I stepped on someone on accident and I turn around like, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry." And it was Miranda Lambert. I was like, "I am really so sorry."
Had you had any other run-ins with country stars before that?
I've met Kacey Musgraves with one shoe on.
You had one shoe or she did?
I had one shoe on because I had just gotten knee surgery, so I had this really big cast thing on my leg. So I had one cowgirl boot on.
What did you want to be growing up?
I thought I was gonna be an accountant, so that's what I went to school for.
Could you do my taxes?
I don't know if I'm good at it (Laughs). But I'd try. Yeah, probably.