Album review: “One Thing at a Time”


Credit: WSPN Staff

WSPN’s Deirdre Brown discusses Morgan Wallen’s latest album, “One Thing at a Time.”

Deirdre Brown

Morgan Wallen’s latest album, “One Thing At A Time,” is breaking records left and right with 36 songs, nine singles and 52.9 million streams, all in 24 hours.

Wallen had fans in a country craze as he released single after single over the past year, leaving fans with high expectations for his next album. On March 3, those expectations were met when he released, “One Thing At A Time.”

Although, some disagree about whether or not Wallen did meet fans’ expectations. I will admit that I skipped over many of the songs the first listen through. However, with a second and third chance, the songs grew on me. To those who did not give the album a second chance, I would encourage them to listen again because each song gets better and better with every listen.

Talking about first impressions, this is the list that left me impressed (excluding singles released pre-album): “Born With A Beer In My Hand,” “Sunrise,” “F150-50,” “I Deserve a Drink,” “Thinkin’ Bout Me,” “180 (Lifestyle),” “Good Girl Gone Missin,’” “Outlook” and “Dying Man.” These are the most singable yet emotional songs on the album and resemble the sound of Wallen’s previous album, “Dangerous.”

Although many of Wallen’s songs sound upbeat and fun, a huge underlying theme of this album is sobriety. Wallen is known for his songs about alcohol like, “Whiskey Glasses” and “You Proof,” so the theme of moderation and staying clean is certainly new. Opening up an album with a song about how hard it has been to stay clean is a powerful thing for Wallen to do. Lyrics like “I ain’t saying I swore it off for good, I’m just saying I’m doing the best I can” and “Just cause I smile through my sobriety, don’t mean it ain’t chilling in the back of my mind” are heavy words to begin a 36-track album with.

As a listener and fan of all Wallen’s music, it’s beautiful to hear the story that he is telling throughout his album. For instance, “Don’t Think Jesus” is a story about a man who doesn’t live by the bible yet still feels he receives blessings from above. Before learning about Wallen’s struggles, this seemed like a normal country song, but now the song carries new weight. It’s evident he feels that he doesn’t deserve what he has in life because of past sins.

Another influence of the record was his two-year-old son, Indigo Wilder. It’s clear that Wallen tried to clean his life up for his son, especially in the two closing two songs. In “Outlook,” Wallen describes how changes in his life have made him see the bigger picture of his life. With the lyric, “It’s something more than lucky stars when you kiss your baby,” it’s clear how much his son means to him. “Dying Man,” talks about how an “angel” saved his life from “becoming a headline” due to his past substance abuse.

It might be hard for some fans to fully understand “One Thing at a Time” because of the many heavy topics that Wallen highlights. However, I think it’s really beautiful how vulnerable he is in this album.

But believe me, with 36 songs, there’s still plenty of that to go around. Songs like “You Proof,” “Last Night,” “Everything I Love,” “Cowgirls,” “Sunrise,” “F150-50,” “One Thing At A Time,” “180 (Lifestyle)” and many others put the pop in pop-country music. Sonically, Wallen’s award-winning sound is accentuated within this album. There is no shortage of country pride or heartbreak anthems.

Another addition to Wallen’s incredible sound is the featured artists on the album. With artists like Ernest, Eric Church and HARDY, the pure country influence brings the album alive. The songs these artists are featured in are enjoyable and leave a humming tune in your head.

Something that I’ve learned about Wallen is the emotion that runs through all his songs, and I was lucky enough to see his talent live in concert. I had the treat of going to his concert last summer, and I will be going again this summer. His live performances were moving and emotional when it came to the slow ballads, and when it came to his more pop-country songs, he turned on his charm and had fun with the songs. I can’t wait to hear how this album sounds live this summer.

Wallen has changed the face of country music. His music is refreshing. His entertaining concerts and loving fans have sent his career skyrocketing, and “One Thing At A Time” has taken that one step farther from his previous perfection. The maturity of the lyrics shed a new light on Wallen as an artist. Overall, I give this album a 9.5/10. With 36 songs, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but some of them include: “Born With A Beer In My Hand,” “Outlook,” “Dying Man,” “Don’t Think Jesus,” “Days That End In Why” and “Everything I Love.”