Wade delivers a more intimate experience with back-to-basics EP.
Hot on the heels of Morgan Wade’s phenomenally successful debut album “Reckless”, which garnered many accolades including Rolling Stone Country’s No. 1 album for 2021, comes this five track, ‘Acoustic Sessions EP’, with three previously unreleased tracks plus stripped back versions from two of the highlights from last years album. Though Sadler Vaden and Paul Ebersold’s production of, ‘Reckless‘, was by no means heavy handed, this acoustic offering allows an altogether more intimate approach, a closer inspection of both song structure and poetry which in turn reveals the vulnerability that hides beneath the intensity and chaos of Wade’s vocal delivery. Whether you take the view that Wade successfully straddles the bridge between country pop and indie rock or alternatively balances rather precariously, what can’t be disputed is the raw intensity she conveys, not just in every syllable but with in every breath between , as her clear eyed, unabashed honesty cuts deeps to the bone.
The EP. opens with, ‘Crossing State Lines’, the simplest of accompaniments supporting the, by now, familiar heartfelt vocals that recount the effects and harsh realities of a one sided, doomed relationship. This a strong powerful number that would have comfortably held its own on last years album with Wade lamenting, “If I thought I’d found heaven, then what kind of hell is this?”. Track two, ‘Flowers’, follows in a similar vain structurally, but here the hurt and anger is replaced by a more reflective mood, struggling to stay quiet about those things that don’t lie easy as she sings, “All you babies are having babies”, whilst mourning lost loved ones and the futility of leaving flowers at the graveside. ‘Kelly’s Drive’, is the third and last of the new tracks from this EP, and finds Wade again agonising over past relationships, coming to terms with letting go and moving on. Here again on these three new tracks Wade demonstrates all the traits so ably realised on her debut album. A wildness and recklessness of youth, coupled with a vulnerability and intimacy, whilst at the same time revealing an old soul perspective both nostalgic and sensitive.
The remaining two track both appeared on, ‘Reckless’, fully dressed so it’s interesting to listen to them stripped back, though to be fair on, ‘Last Cigarette’, there’s still al little more going on here than just vocal and guitar. That said, the poppier flavour to the song is paired back creating a rawer more organic flavour. Of more interest is, ‘Wilder Days’, where the uncluttered open space allows the narrative of this track, possibly the strongest from the album, to fully convey the struggle between the innocence and energy of youth and the sagacity and lethargy of age.
It would be presumptuous to assume the direction Wade’s sophomore album will take. There will undoubtedly be pressure to match and exceed the success of, ‘Reckless’, which may have a bearing into which musical landscape it chooses to occupy. However, what can’t be denied is the pure power and intensity of Wade’s vocal armoury, of which the songs on this EP testify, that should ensure an edgy, uncompromising delivery regardless of any commercial leanings. In the meantime, ‘Acoustic Sessions’, exposes the more sensitive, and intuitive range of Wade’s repertoire. Whether this is a window into the future or just capturing a moment in time we will just have to wait and see.