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Morgan Wade's 'Reckless' is a record ready to 'kick up a little bit of dust'

Matthew Leimkuehler, Nashville Tennessean
·4 min read
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Stop what you're doing and listen to Morgan Wade's new music. Seriously.

Wade, a 26-year-old newcomer raised in small-town Floyd, Virginia, releases Friday her debut record "Reckless" via Nashville label Thirty Tigers. The 10-song collection delivers what its name promises: An unvarnished voice straddling country and rock 'n' roll with stories of lionhearted truth.

Her songs swing whole-hardheartedly into personal stories embraced by listeners hungry for a songwriter who reminds them — as Wade does in her single "Don't Cry" — that "it's OK to not be all right."

"I try to be as honest as possible and sometimes I'm like, 'Should I have said that? Should I be that vulnerable?'" Wade told The Tennessean. "But my most vulnerable songs — the ones where I'm super honest and real — are the ones that other people connect with.

"It makes me feel like we're all connected, on some level," she continued. "It's good to see other people talking about mental health and sobriety and such. We don't talk about it enough. We keep it so quiet, like it's a secret."

Need more proof? Wade scored Ashley McBryde's seal of approval last year when the four-time Grammy nominee tapped her to open on a tour prior to COVID-19 shutdowns.

RELATED: Ashley McBryde's new album is compelling. So are the stories behind it.

"I Google'd her and was like, 'Oh (expletive), she's got more tattoos than me,'" said McBryde, an ace singer-songwriter who's known for spinning stories ("Girl Goin' Nowhere") and twisting tall tales ("Martha Divine") from the stage. "We're gonna get along."

Morgan Wade
Morgan Wade

"I really enjoyed her song and getting to experience her songwriting from a fan perspective first," McBryde said. "I think this record is gonna kick up a little bit of dust. She’s just so cool, man."

Raised on Elvis Presley and Friday night bluegrass sessions in rural Virginia, Wade began songwriting around age 7, she said. But she didn't share her words with anyone — even her parents were in the dark, she said — until her freshman year of college, after a nasty breakup.

She recruited a band on Craigslist and began hitting clubs. A few years ago at a local festival, she caught the attention of Sadler Vaden's guitar tech. Vaden, a songwriter, producer and guitarist with Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, got his ears on some of Wade's songs, eventually recruiting her to Nashville.

She worked with Vaden and producer Paul Ebersold on-and-off in Nashville for two years to track and release "Reckless."

"This is a collection of everything that's been going on in my life the last two years," Wade said, adding: "[Trying] to figure out who I am. I'm three, almost four years sober. I hadn't been sober very long when I started working on these. That's something I was trying to figure out. Where I fit in and how to navigate life."

The album opens with "Wilder Days," a dose of pure Americana rock ready to soundtrack a summer road trip. She spins a mournful country-leaning ballad with "Northern Air" and sings of real-life intimacy on "Other Side." The title track, "Reckless," culminates in a booming chorus when Wade offers: "You had me thinking I was OK/ Then you turned around and left me reckless."

Wade built demand for some "Reckless" tracks, such as "Wilder Days," through memorable live performances and YouTube uploads. She cut the album before COVID-19 precautions robbed the singer of a year on the road. Revisiting the songs in rehearsal "has been good to remember where I was writing these songs and seeing how much I've grown from that."

Like many of her newfound listeners, it's like she's hearing the songs again for the first time.

"I've changed a lot over the pandemic," Wade said. "I think we all probably have. We've been forced to sit with ourselves and be alone. I'm not even the same person I was when they were recorded. It's nice to look back and see that growth."

Tune in: Wade celebrates her "Reckless" release this Friday with a pair of sold out socially distanced gigs at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville. Fans unable to attend can purchase $8.99 livestream tickets via nugs.net.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Morgan Wade on 'Reckless,' her can't-miss debut album