The Sound Cafe
Virginia's Morgan Wade Releases Deluxe Edition Of Acclaimed Debut Album 'Reckless'
Photo Credit: David McClister.
When The New York Times proclaims, “she sounds like she’s singing from the depths of history,” it’s obvious newcomer Morgan Wade’s writing is cutting some of the nation’s most esteemed critics’ to the core. With Year-End recognition for both Reckless and “Wilder Days”, it seemed that the rest of the story might warrant telling. Reckless (Deluxe Edition) arrives with her first Sadler Vaden-collaborative single “The Night,” a broiling rendition of “Suspicious Minds” and four more songs.
“We didn’t want to overwhelm people,” Wade explains of Reckless’ original 10-song incarnation. “We knew it was heavy, entirely real and not like the records most people were putting out. But as we took the music to the people, I was amazed how many people were singing ‘The Night’ back as loud as ‘Wilder Days,’ and I realized we hadn’t quite told the whole story. So, this is the rest of it, and little bit more… Think of it like breadcrumbs as a trail to where we’re heading.”
Torn from the life of a young woman unafraid to push life to the brink, Reckless was consumed in unquenchable desire, thwarted love, bottoming out, not caring and putting oneself into the world to figure it out.
And now there is even more of Morgan Wade’s Tom Petty-esque lean rock take on classic country-feeling instruments, melodies that sweep you up and a beat that moves you forward to go around. Revisiting “The Night” with Vaden, the secret weapon in Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, and co-producer/engineer Paul Ebersold, they’ve dialled in the white-knuckled take on barely coping “The Night,” as well as the power-pop, sobriety-inducing “Through Your Eyes.”
Landing on Rolling Stone’s all-genre Top 50 Albums, with the assessment, “Wade is so deft at conjuring the head-over-heels feeling of plunging into a relationship and the subsequent heartbreak that she sometimes seems to be pinpointing the exact moment where one blurs into the other,” Wade is fearless in facing the future.
“I wrote what I felt, and I write what I feel,” says the Blue Ridge Mountain girl who spent the fall touring with roots rock American titans Lucero. “When I have big, bearded guys coming up to me crying, I know I’m not alone, and I figure anything I can do to encourage the next misfit or outcast, that’s awesome, because I had nobody who looked – or saw things – like I did when I started doing this.”
With a video for “Run” also out, the tumbling melody and wishful vocal of wishing to be anywhere but there, Wade continues embodying every young person feeling trapped in a town too small for their dreams and too confining to let their true selves shine post-breakup.
Recognizing, “We can fly, we can leave this town/ Baby, these memories have been holding us down,” she beckons to a conspirator to escape with her.
Morgan Wade didn’t write to be a sensation, for critical acclaim or massive concert tours. She wrote to speak her truth, to save her own life – and perhaps throw a rope to others struggling with the weight of a world moving too fast, loves where you fall too hard and nights that, good or bad, seem to go on forever.
2021 saw Reckless, her Thirty Tigers/now Sony Music Nashville debut, and lead single “Wilder Days” topping critical lists from Rolling Stone, TIME, Stereogum, New York Times, Boston Globe, FADER, Tennessean, Whiskey Riff, Billboard, and The Boot and Taste of Country who both proclaimed, “a once-in-a-decade debut.” With a voice that is raw hurt, deep knowing and somehow innocence retained, Wade wrote or co-wrote a song cycle about the reality facing teens and 20-somethings that embraced raw desire, the reality of getting high and getting sober, the realm of crawling through the wreckage with a tough vulnerability that is as singular as the young woman from Floyd, Virginia.
“I didn’t know anybody like me when I was a kid, listening to music,” she confesses. “That’s why I fell in love with Elvis, that raw emotion. He held nothing back, and I loved that, so when I started writing, that’s where I went. I didn’t know you couldn’t. And to tell kids ‘do your own thing,’ that’s a bit much, but if I can show them something else? That might light a fire.”
The sinewy songwriter covered in ink understands striking that fire. Wade, shamed for singing at school, felt the singe. She recalls, “I’d spent so long being told, ‘Your voice is weird’ by other kids, and it’s such a pivotal time. They’d say, ‘What’s wrong with you? You can play for yourself but do it at home.’
“And it helps,” she knowingly concedes, “because you do it for you.” Developing her distinctly singular – turpentine and honeycomb – vocal tone, her emotional transparency suggests Etta James, Adele, Patti Griffin, Lana Del Ray, St. Etienne’s Annie Clark, even Alison Krauss.