Morgan Wade is ready to raise the curtain. Currently situated as one of Nashville’s fastest rising and most critically acclaimed young stars, hailed by some of the world’s most respected publications, from Rolling Stone to New York Times, as a once-in-a-generation talent, thanks in great effect to Reckless, her stunning 2021 Thirty Tigers/now Sony Music Nashville debut album, the now 28-year-old -- the same person who not long ago felt as if she “didn’t have anything,” -- now finds herself eager and ready to reveal herself to her ever-growing legion of dedicated fans like never before. To hear Wade tell it, it’s time to peel back layers of her psyche and let people in.
“I realised the more authentic you are and the more you pour yourself into your songs, and most importantly if you’re being honest, people will connect to that,” Wade explains of her highly personal motivation when crafting Psychopath, her second full-length studio album, due on Aug.25 via Sony Music Nashville and a no-holds-barred meditation of an LP that dives deep into life’s oft-twisted path to the present. “I want every song to get the credit it deserves.”
On the heels of a multi-month headline tour, one that saw emotionally invested sellout crowds hanging on Wade’s every lyric, not to mention a thrilling performance at Stagecoach, Wade now delivers an astounding 13-track LP crafted with the help of some of Nashville’s most extraordinary musical talents, from A-list songwriters (Julia Michaels, Natalie Hemby, Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley) to studio musicians and, of course, her longtime producer-guru/song whisperer Sadler Vaden.
A relentless writer, Wade had penned what would become the album’s exquisite title track and lead single as far back as the weeks leading up to Reckless’ release. A one-take meditation on“being so engrossed in someone, it’s like “What the hell was I doing before I met you? I don’t even fucking know!” Wade describes “Psychopath” as “probably as close to a country song as it gets on the record.” Don’t let the title fool you: “When you look at the title, you don’t assume that’s a love song. But it is,” she says with a smile. “I kinda dig that.”
It’s easy to lose sight of how Wade’s life has shifted in only a few short years. And yet even as an unsigned upstart singer-songwriter from Floyd, Virginia, back when her singular goal was to book that next live show, when she was just waiting for that one opportunity to showcase her musical wares to the world, Wade already had it all.
Morgan Wade’s abilities have long been undeniable: that raw and unflinching voice anchored by a perfect tinge of twang; the rare ability to pen honest portraits of some of life’s most precious and painful and unpredictable moments; an onstage vulnerability that so seamlessly breaks down the wall between fan and artist.
With the success of Reckless, Wade openly admits she felt a certain pressure leading into Psychopath, not least because Reckless had exceeded even her wildest expectations. “If my debut record wouldn’t have done anything, then it wouldn’t have mattered,” she says. “I would have just gone back to the drawing board and continued. But now, there was a lot of pressure to get this next record out.”
Despite wanting to share new music with her fans as quickly as possible, Wade says she tried her best not to internalise the outside pressures when penning her new material over the past two years. It was principally important, she says, that she stay true to the songs and not let the fear of being vulnerable hold her back. In due time, the songs started coming fast and furious. Wade realized she was penning some of her most forthright and honest material yet. She excitedly describes one fabulous writing session with the brilliant pop-mastermind songwriter Michaels that resulted in “Phantom Feelings.” “You found someone, I’m still accepting that’s it not me,”Wade sings on the acoustic-anchored mournful musing of coming to terms with losing someone and ultimately moving on. “All our words we’ve ever said are bouncing off the ceiling/I try not to, but I still have phantom feelings.”
One of the most intriguing songs on Psychopath is undoubtedly “Alanis.” An ode to Alanis Morrisette, one of Wade’s self-professed musical heroes, the raw and unabashedly real tune is as much a nod to the sexist walls Morrissette broke down in the music industry as to the musician’s songs. “I know how to be brave/Keep the demons away/All because of you,” Wade confesses under chugging electric guitar.
“As an artist, you really have to sit back sometimes and look back at the women who have really changed the world for us and allow us to now do our thing,” says Wade, who has drawn comparisons to Morrisette for both women’s emotional rawness take-no-prisoners attitudes.“Alanis opened that door. I can’t imagine how hard that was coming on the scene for her. As amazing as it probably felt to be so open and vulnerable, that shit is hard. Especially when you have the world watching and judging what you’re doing.
And then there’s the revealing “Losers Like Me.” Written along with “27 Club” in a last-second burst of creativity in the days leading up the recording sessions for Psychopath, the unflinching cut hears Wade assessing in real-time where she sits in her life and, most interestingly, how it compares to some of her closest family and friends. “We wouldn’t turn out nothing like our moms/I didn’t, but I wish I did,” she sings at the track’s outset.
Reflecting on the song, Wade gets personal. “Sometimes life can be a little hard,” she explains.“I’m gone and busy and I don’t have a family to come back to. I’m not married, I don’t have kids. When I get off tour, I get home and it’s quiet. Which is hard for me. I look at my cousins and my friends and I see them married and settled down. And sure, they look at what I have as really cool, and while it is, it can still be difficult. Now, as I get older, I realise if I was half the woman my mom is, I’d be doing really fucking good. It’s funny how things work. The things you didn’t think you wanted you start to want. It’s about growing up and wanting the best of both worlds. It’s that internal struggle.”
Now, as she eagerly awaits listener’s reactions to Psychopath, Wade is nothing if not thrilled that above all she has remained decidedly true to herself despite all the monumental changes in her life. “Regardless of what people say about Psychopath, I’m proud because I feel like it showcases where I’m at currently,” she says proudly. “I have no choice but to be authentic. And I have to feel what I feel. And right now, I’m really feeling the music.”