Reviewed for Country Lowdown by guest reviewer Samantha Hempel

Morgan Evans ‘Things That We Drink To’

A big hit of positive spirit, vitality, honesty and warmth. What more could we ask for as Autumn creeps up and the nights draw in? Morgan Evans much anticipated full length album gives us this in spades.This release comprises 11 tracks 5 of which we have got to know from his eponymous E.P. which dropped in August and I imagine found their way onto many summer party/wedding playlists.

Morgan is an established country star in his home country of Australia having won many industry awards. He has also hosted their CMC award shows and has been a regular at CMC Rocks country music festival.

It’s clear that time has been spent crafting this project showing Morgan to be a talented songwriter producing his brand of refreshing, hooky pop country melodies. He has a co-write on all the tracks on the album and has also worked in conjunction with other big hitters in the country songwriting world, including Chris DeStefano (also the producer on the album), Josh Osborne, Johnston and Ashley Gorley to name a few.

Talking to Kix Brooks he said that he wanted to bring more of his perspective and story to this project and that he wanted his songwriting to reflect his story as honestly as possible. I think he’s managed to achieve that taking us on the ups and downs of his journey from Australia to The U.S.

The album fittingly begins with the track ‘American’ which speaks of falling in love with all things American including an American girl who feels like home. Morgan left his home in Australia to pursue his career in Nashville and married pop country star Kelsea Ballerini last December.

This is followed by tracks that have been successfully released as singles ‘Kiss Somebody’ and ‘I do’.

Track 4 ‘Song For The Summer’ should be a big hit live with its guitar riff intro, catchy chorus and heavy beat. It has parts for the crowd to sway together and others where I can see them jumping up and down belting out the lyrics. It tells of past young love and how hearing song can take you back to that memory.

The current single ‘Day Drunk’ is up next. This is an absolute ear worm. I can’t get it out of my head. It’s a drunk on life fun filled anthem. These lyrics particularly resonating with me!
“Play a bunch of old songs, sing along, get the words wrong, ( who cares)”

Track 6 ‘Dance With Me (feat. Kelsea Ballerini)’ brings a quietly romantic moment to punctuate the energy that has come before. It is a simple duet that was the first song Morgan says he wrote for Kelsea. I love the softness of Morgan’s voice on this track that has the feel of a song you’ve known forever.

Personally track 7 ‘Me On You’ is my least favourite. It’s a catchy song penned with Chris DeStefano and Josh Osborne.

The title track ‘Things That We drink to’ is a heartfelt, emotive look back recalling life’s stories, its up and downs and the people we spend it with. It was written after the sudden loss of Rob Potts the manager that had first discovered Morgan and represents a contemplative moment to take a breath.
“Gonna raise up a tall glass tonight as we look back.
Back on all the life that we lived through, yeah the things that we drink to.”
Alongside the melancholy of recalling and missing those we have lost we are also encouraged to look forward to better things to come,
“The hope that we know tomorrow can bring.”

This hopeful positivity is continued in the next track ‘We Dream’ with its choral opening refrain of
“No matter who you are or where you come from, anybody can be anybody anyone you want, nobody, nobody can tell us what to see when dream.”
I love this track it makes me throw my hands in the air and jig about!

The penultimate track ‘Everything Changes’ is said to reference Morgan’s meeting Kelsea on a Tuesday at the CMC awards in Australia. Another catchy chorus that somehow makes me picture Morgan singing with a big smile on his face.

The final track is probably my favourite ‘Young Again’. With its nod to Irish country music it’s a great festival ready track. I heard him play it at C2C and it definitely got the crowd up a singing along. It has us finishing the album feeling high on life and wanting the party to go on and on.

Overall I enjoyed this album a lot more than I thought I would. Having seen him at C2C I remember finding the loop pedal station a little distracting but here, backed by a bigger instrumental sound it’s impossible not to bop and sing along. In fact I like it more each time I listen to it. It may not be for the country traditionalists but has a good range of tracks that combine airy melody with compelling lyrics many of which will be lapped up by a live crowd wanting to dance and sing along. I can see why Morgan has been tipped by many as one to watch as his style fits right in with the country music charts at the moment. His fans will definitely buy into the narrative of romantic goals between him and Kelsea as referenced by both of them in their songs, interviews and social media posts. Morgan has worked hard for a long time to get to this point and now surfing the wave of the success of ‘Kiss somebody’ his first number one single in the U.S. and it looks like this could be his time.

Morgan is currently on tour in the U.S. supporting Chris Young on the Losing Sleep World Tour.

Chris DeStefano can be seen across the U.K. on the CMA songwriters tour beginning at the RNCM in Manchester on Saturday 20/10/18.

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