When: Sun., July 17, 2 p.m. 2016
Mainstream country has long made room for trends that fall outside the genre, like the flanged guitar neutered from 70s psychedelia or the gut-punching rock flourishes imparted by early Steve Earle. I haven’t stopped experiencing a degree of cognitive dissonance when hip-hop makes its way into the formula, but I suppose I’d better get used to it. On her recent debut album, Hero (Columbia), Texas singer Maren Morris shows her affection for both hip-hop and contemporary R&B, and I’ll admit the record has a certain appeal, if only as a disposable product. On the opener, “Sugar,” she swipes Beyonce’s swerving, finger-wagging phrasing and applies it to a series of come-ons, though she’s more interesting when serving up the blame. Larded with rap cadences, “Rich” makes hay from the time-tested “If I had a dollar” structure as Morris visualizes bling while acknowledging her beau’s indifference. But as funny as the image of “Me and Diddy drippin’ diamonds like Marilyn” might be, her essence comes through better when she asserts, “If I had a dime every time you crossed my mind / Well, I’d basically be sitting on a big pile of dimes.” On the gospel-streaked “My Church” she celebrates listening to the radio as her form of religion, while she drops “shit” and “bullshit” all over “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry,” a dump-the-loser rave-up that’s one of several songs in which Morris flouts her language in the face of Nashville propriety. I’m skeptical that I’d want to listen to this stuff in a few years, but for now it does its job.
Price: $45-$89, $110-$250 three-day pass