Morgan Wallen has proved that his reign over the country music industry is here to stay with his newest album, One Thing at a Time. The album is Wallen’s third, after releasing If I Know Me in 2018 and Dangerous: The Double Album in 2021. Wallen’s last album was surrounded by controversies in his personal life, making him ineligible for both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Grammy Awards. However, he has spent the past two years trying to repair his mistakes and has slowly gained back the large fan base he once had, creating much excitement and anticipation for the release of this album.
Wallen had a very successful release day. One Thing at a Time was streamed 52.29 million times, breaking the record for the most single day streams for any male country artist and for any artist’s album release in 2023. Wallen’s authentic self-confidence is obvious throughout his music, which is one of the reasons he has become so popular all over the country. While most of his songs share a similar country love theme, it is easy to tell that Wallen is singing from the heart and that his music is meaningful to him. The songs are not particularly emotional with any deep meaning, but what makes Wallen stand out among other artists is the passion in his voice that shines through on each of the album’s tracks.
With a whopping 36 tracks on the album, it was hard to choose just a few that stood out. In “Single Than She Was,” Wallen sings a love song to a girl that he only realized he had feelings for after she began a relationship with someone else. He talks about all the things he wishes they could do together if she was not with another man. The subject matter is rather simple, and the song lasts barely two and a half minutes, but the steady melody makes it an enjoyable and fun track.
Country music often references drinking as a way to deal with heartbreak or low feelings, and Wallen’s music is no exception. Although Wallen has said that he does all his performances entirely sober, he sings about using alcohol and music to cope in “Days That End in Why” and “I Deserve A Drink.” Wallen sings from a more negative tone in these tracks, telling stories of feelings of misery and sadness.
The album ends with “Dying Man,” a song in which Wallen uses the analogy of a “dying man” to describe someone that took advantage of fame and stardom. They let the power that comes with this lifestyle get to their head, leading to self-destructive behavior. In the song, the “dying man” is saved by a woman, who is described as an “angel.” It is possible that Wallen sees himself in the dying man and that this track references his scandals from the last few years. The song has been theorized to actually be about Wallen’s son instead of a woman, with him singing about his son being a light in his life and “saving” him from the mistakes he has made in the past few years.
The tracks on the album are definitely good, and Wallen’s talent is apparent, but they lack much variety between them. On an album that is 36 tracks long, it would be expected to have some distinction between them, but after a few songs in, it felt like the same country love track each time. A shorter album would definitely be a better option when the style and sound of the songs are as similar as each of Wallen’s.
Ili Pecullan is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected]