Megan Moroney Talks Debut Album ‘Lucky’: “Everything I Love About Country Music”

Megan Moroney’s smoky vocals are slowly starting to take over country airwaves. Her breakout track “Tennessee Orange” has connected with listeners all around the country who find themselves in similarly impactful relationships.

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He ain’t from where we’re from / But he feels like home, yeah / He’s got me doin’ things I’ve never done / In Georgia, they call it a sin / I’m wearing Tennessee orange for him, she draws out in the chorus.

The track has primed her for eventual superstardom, putting her in rooms alongside the genre’s biggest names and earning her accolades many hopefuls only dream of—notably her first CMT Award for Breakthrough Female Video of the Year.

“I called my mom immediately after that happened,” Moroney tells American Songwriter. “I was just freaking out because I didn’t expect to win. I remember thinking, ‘Did I even speak English’ after I got backstage. I think I just blacked out.”

The success of “Tennessee Orange” came as a shock to Moroney, who released the song on an as-needed basis for a collaboration with Spotify.

“The only reason we released it was because Spotify gave us an opportunity where I needed to release an original song and the timing happened to be football season,” she says. “In the first five days, I had a million streams and my numbers weren’t like that on any of my other stuff.”

It’s not hard to understand why “Tennessee Orange” would be a success. The track melds a tongue-in-cheek conflation between sports allegiances and true love with a deeply emotive performance from Moroney. It’s that kind of keen lyricism that is making a name for Moroney and why her fans couldn’t wait to sink their teeth into her debut album.

Her debut, Lucky, arrived on Friday (May 5). Her producer, Kristian Bush, describes Moroney’s sound as “a vintage car that can fly,” due to its nods to classic country with a modern twist. That same duality is felt all throughout Lucky.

While there are warping guitar tones and simple piano lines that call to mind Moroney’s predecessors in the genre, she sets her music firmly in the future with references to Instagram and now-departed greats like Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash.

[RELATED: Megan Moroney, Pillbox Patti Join CMT’s “Next Women of Country” Class of 2023]

“My music and taste are influenced by a lot of different artists,” Moroney says. “I had my mom’s taste growing up, which was country radio, and my dad who was really into James Taylor, Eagles, and Gram Parsons.”

She continues, “Then growing up, I developed a love for my own artists that I discovered. Those are Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and Taylor Swift. So I think that you’ll probably hear hints of all those people throughout the album.”

Lucky is a well-balanced album with just enough somber notes to hold your hand on your worst days and enough anthems to pull right out of them.

“I wanted my first record to be basically everything I love about country music,” Moroney says. “I wanted to make people feel all kinds of things. ‘Lucky’ is a party song. ‘Girl in the Mirror’ is obviously really sad. ‘Sleep On My Side’ is funny. It covers many things.”

The album starts off with the TikTok-approved “I’m Not Pretty” before rolling into the title track. Soon after, “Tennessee Orange” has its moment, followed up by a stunning mid-tempo track called “Kansas Anymore.”

It’s around track five when things start to get really serious with “Girl in the Mirror.”

Moroney calls “Girl in the Mirror” one of her most vulnerable songs. She looks just like me but I don’t recognize her / She’s got the same eyes but they’re heavy and tired / He just walked out and she’s standing right here / She loves the boy more than she loves the girl in the mirror, she sings.

“[This song] is about what we find ourselves doing in relationships when we get into them,” she explains. “[It’s about] how, as a strong woman, it’s really hard to admit that you’ve kind of lost yourself trying to make it work with a guy that you shouldn’t be trying to make it work with.

“Based on the messages that I’ve received already, it’s helping other people,” she continues.

Songs like “Girl in the Mirror” and “Tennessee Orange” call into question just who Moroney is singing so poignantly about. In 2023, when there is a relationship (or even a rumored one), there is an online discussion among fans about said relationship. Every make-up, break-up, and anything in between is put underneath the searing light of a phone camera, waiting to be dissected by the masses.

Moroney has been linked to fellow country singer Morgan Wallen for some time now. Though neither has confirmed the relationship, fans will still assume every mention of “him” in Moroney’s music is referring to the “Last Night” singer.

“I think that just happens,” Moroney says of the public’s perception of her music. “When you hear my songs, it was clearly written about someone, I didn’t just dream it up. So, it doesn’t really bother me.”

She continues, “I think it is funny though because people think my songs are about one person, but it’s actually just that I’ve dated the same guy—copy and paste—over and over. It’s a problem. I’ve had a long list of bad ex-boyfriends…”

Speaking of bad ex-boyfriends, a standout from the record is the ballad “Why Johnny,” written with Conor Matthews. On top of showcasing Moroney’s stunning vocals, the lyrics offer a unique angle on the oft-romanticized relationship between June and Johnny Cash.

“[Conor] brought in ‘Why Johnny’ the title, but it was like ‘Why Johnny? Did you set the bar so high?'” she explains. “I feel like most people when they’re writing about Johnny and June, it’s about the iconic love story that everyone looks up to. I was down to write about Johnny and June, but as far as the timeline of the relationship goes, I don’t really know much about them.

“They were married to two different people, so immediately, I was like, ‘That’s a little messy,’” she adds. “Also, Johnny struggled with alcohol abuse and substance abuse. This song is me asking June ‘How did you stay with him through all that?’”

The lyrics read, What made you wanna make it work? / Did you always know he’d come around / Change his ways and settle down? / Did your friends call you crazy too? / It’d sure help if I knew / Hey June, why Johnny?

Elsewhere on the record are standouts “Mustang or Me,” “Sad Songs For Sad People,” and “God Plays a Gibson.” Each track has its own flare that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. Lucky is not an idle listen, it’s made for ruminating, crying, dancing, singing at the top of your lungs, and hitting repeat until all you’re problems either float away or you feel seen enough to weather your heartbreak on your own.

The release of Lucky has punctuated a stellar year for Moroney. The 25-year-old has already garnered a significant amount of success but says the only direction she plans to move is forward – “There’s no slowing down here.”

Photo by David McClister / Sony Music Nashville

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