A selection of articles from all our issues - go to 'The Magazine' to read them all, including exclusive interviews from Aston Barrett Jr., Niko Moon, Serena Ryder, Canaan Smith and many more...
As I made the drive towards the festival this year, with droplets of heavy precipitation bouncing off the windshield and a jumper and coat at the ready on the back seat, I had an awful realisation. Long Road 2022 had been my first attendance at the event, the weather was as glorious as one could ever wish for and I had been swept up by the magic and scale of the whole thing. I’d walked around the whole day in complete wonder taking in every last detail of the site, the sounds and the people.
Would it still be as exciting when it wasn’t all new?
What if Long Road 2022 had been so perfect that 2023 could never match up?
After all I’d spent a year romantically reminiscing and building something up in my head that, it now occurred to me, maybe nothing could ever match. After all the excitement for my return to Long Road I began to feel a sense of dread that maybe I’d spoiled it for myself before it even began, the weather didn’t help either.
Thankfully, and I’m pleased to report, this feeling was subdued on my entry to the festival site. I love that the festival’s tagline is ‘welcome home old friend’, and this feels so fitting when you’re there. Especially when you’re returning. Whilst I was excited to see some new additions to the festival this year, including a ferris wheel no less, what really felt special was the warm familiarity that grips you as you wander round. I was pleased to see the return of some of the food vendors and stalls that had made the previous year feel so special, as well as some of the people. It did really feel like I’d come home. This is what makes the Long Road so special.
Some of my highlights this year include Alana Springsteen and Megan Moroney. I caught both as they performed on the main Rhinetsone stage on Sunday afternoon and haver to say both were as brilliant as they are professional. In fact, they both managed to attract crowds that last year only made their way to the mainstage in time for Locash’s penultimate set. It was of course easy to see why. Megan’s presence at the Long Road this year was particularly impressive as she performed three different sets that day, and whilst I only managed to catch the Rhinestone set and part of the Interstate set I’m told that barring her most famous or requested numbers she played a different set list with each performance. Her hit ‘Tennessee Orange’ was one I was particularly pleased to hear as I’ve been listening to it frequently as of late, as I imagine many have, and it was fantastic to hear an amped up crowd bellowing the lyrics back to her. This was particularly impressive so early in the day before people have had a chance to really get swept up in the atmosphere (and have some whiskey).
I stuck around the mainstage after these two as I was particularly curious to hear the ‘Colour Me Country All Stars’ – a fabulous collection of talented country artists. I had previously been unfamiliar with what this was all about when I saw it on the poster and had to indulge my curiosity, I was very pleased I did. A fantastic initiative offering grants to up and coming country artists of colour it really drove home the message that country music is for everyone. It helped that they had a fantastic line up too. Gabe Lee kicked us off in typical style, being just about the coolest man anywhere in the world at that time. A pleasant surprise was Michael B. Whit with whom I had been previously unfamiliar. When he was introduced as ‘a cross between George Strait and Usher’ I was immediately intrigued but also doubtful but I have to say this was a fair assessment. His beautiful voice, charming style and R&B inspired melisma combined beautifully with the stylistic story telling that we all love in country music and he is definitely one to keep an eye on in the near future. The set was closed out by Chapel Hart, and wow what a group. Sadly, I’d missed the legendary Interstate set the night before, but hearing that fans were so disappointed when Chapel Hart left the stage that the DJs who replaced them were met with boos I was obviously keen to catch a glimpse. Even though they only (initially) performed one song it wasn’t hard to see why, their energy was unmatched and they had everyone dancing, hollering and having a good time. So much so, that when they tried to leave the stage the crowd made such an uproar that they had to come back and sing another!
It was fitting that after an initiative supporting up and coming country artists of colour I’d get to see one who had managed to make a name for himself already. Breland is the name that had been circled on my line up ever since it was announced and I was desperate to see him in action. You may remember him as the cover artist of issue 12, and if you don’t I recommend you go and give that interview a read! The way I can best describe Breland’s set is that he was 2023 Long Road’s Locash. He may not have been the headliner but he certainly stole the show. From start to finish his energy was so engaging and had everyone dancing and partying. What really impressed me is that he went from performing party anthems such as ‘Thick’ and ‘Beers on Me’ (featuring an excellent Hardy impression), to giving us an off the cuff acoustic rendition of an unreleased song. He spoke before he sang about how the song was for his Grandma who had sadly passed and it was a fitting tribute, there were more than a few teary eyes in the crowd (mine included). It was also nice to see him bring out a couple of guests including the return of Alana Springsteen to perform their duet ‘For What It’s Worth’ and British Country favourite Kezia Gill (who featured in Issue 13) to fill the role of Thomas Rhett in a performance of ‘Praise the Lord’. Similarly to Locash in 2022, I was amazed at Breland’s energy and how he managed to captivate the crowd, easily transitioning from party time to some more emotionally significant numbers such as ‘Cross Country’. I was disappointed when his set was over but have been listening to his music on repeat ever since!
Although Breland did steal the show, this takes nothing away from Cam, who was headlining. Having not heard too much of Cam, and her being somewhat of a last minute replacement for Jon Pardi, I was on the fence about this act and had decided that I would watch a couple of songs then maybe go and catch whoever was on at the Interstate to close out the day. However, I did not move for Cam’s whole set. What a performance! Similarly to Breland it felt like something of an emotional rollercoaster in the crowd as she easily transitioned from having everyone belting out ‘Diane’ to then tenderly singing ‘Burning House’. A particular highlight was when singing ‘Burning House’ Cam and her band took a brief pause before launching into the chorus, catching out the crowd who had already started to sing it. Upon realising what ad happened Cam let out a smile and a laugh before noticing the audience had continued, and she could only stand as the whole crowd serenaded her with her own beautiful words. It really was a magical moment to be part of and one of those that couldn’t have been anymore perfect had it been planned. I have to give credit to not just Cam herself though but also her band. It is worth remembering that her and her musicians were only asked a few days before to fly from the US and take on the gig, but you’d have never have guessed this watching them perform. The guitarist in particular, a fabulous player, just oozed this cool energy that was hard not to pick up on, it genuinely felt like he was loving every second. This seemed to be shared by Cam, who made it feel as if the crowd were the ones doing her the favour. The whole performance she seemed genuinely thrilled to be a part of it, and with every lyric that was sung back to her she seemed eternally grateful.
So, despite my initial fears, Long Road 2023 absolutely did not disappoint. Sure, it was a little colder this year, but when you’ve got great music, great people and a great atmosphere it really doesn’t matter whether you’re sporting a jumper or not. All I can say now is, whilst I’m not one for wishing my life away, the countdown for 2024 begins and I for one can’t wait.
As I walked away from the bright lights of the Long Road festival in August 2022 and back towards my car I had two thoughts swirling around in my mind. I don’t want to leave, and I definitely don’t want to wait a whole year until I get to come back.
Being a relative newbie to country music, a passion spurred by a joint effort of my girlfriend and best friend who are both fanatics (I guess I’m drawn to them for some reason) I had a distinct feeling of being an outsider as I prepared to go to the festival in 2022. Being unfamiliar with a shamefully high amount of the line up I felt as though I almost didn’t deserve to be a part of the celebration of a genre that inspires so much passion and fandom in so many people. However, those thoughts were quickly washed away as we arrived.
Don’t get me wrong, the 2022 line up presented some amazing moments. Personal highlights include my discovery of The Ghost of Paul Revere (on what unfortunately turned out to be their farewell tour), Locash’s spellbinding set and The Cadillac Three’s headline worthy performance. I also got to see some beautiful acoustic sets at the wonderfully set Front Porch stage and have a boogie in the dancehall.
Despite all of this though my main takeaway from The Long Road was not the amazing artists and country music that I had been lucky enough to take in, it was the atmosphere.
For a genre like country, which in the UK can still be seen as somewhat niche, we don’t get many opportunities to unashamedly don our cowboy hats, trucker caps, boots and dungarees without feeling like somewhat of an outsider. What The Long Road presents is a community for the weekend, in which it feels like you’ve belonged your whole life. Free of judging, worries of work and the stresses of the real world in general there was just an air of contentment that seemed to consume the whole festival. Set within the beautiful grounds of Stanford Hall, a fitting venue, it was amazing to see so many complete strangers brought together by a common love of this genre of music.
So, like time always does, it has moved quickly and once again we look forward to an amazing weekend at the Long Road ahead. I can’t wait. The real beauty of the Long Road is that whilst I did have a gander at the line up it almost doesn’t matter to me. Sure, I’m looking forward to hearing some great artists again but actually I think what excites me the most is being back in that atmosphere, surrounded by like minded people in a place free from negativity.
If they could bottle up that Long Road feeling, it would sell millions!
See you all there!
About Time or Cause for Concern?
In the past it has been seen as a cardinal sin of showbiz to cancel a gig. ‘The show must go on’ is the famous saying, and more often than not the show always has gone on. Recently, however, artists have begun to focus more on self care and mental health, and this has become an increasingly common reason for shows to be pulled. While on the surface we might praise the artists for their strength, there's probably more than a few of us bearing a quick thought to the £300 we spent on tickets, travel and hotels for an upcoming chance to see our favourite artist.
I've written in the past about how we often make the mistake of looking at rich and famous pop stars and assuming their lives are perfect. There are plenty of artists who have written in songs and autobiographies or spoken in interviews about how this is far from the truth. The reality is that fame is like a goldfish bowl of pressure, there are eyes constantly dissecting and analysing your every move. Combine that with one of the most notoriously ruthless industries around and you have yourself quite a cocktail. The matter of the fact is that, for record labels, artists are their products. They invest in the development of the product, and then sell it to the world through new music and tours. Some of the more prolific artists spend year after year simply alternating between two states; writing and recording, then touring. The industry runs by artists dedicating their lives in this way.
So is it promising to see artists cancelling shows for mental health?
Well yes, of course it is. We've all witnessed artists clearly suffering from exhaustion, and having read quite a few autobiographies, one of the biggest reasons for addiction for artists is because they have to find a way to keep their energy up for their shows. You can't expect artists to go on stage and give it their all every single night, however artists feel they have a duty to their fans and want every single one to have seen the best they can offer when they attend a gig. This whole 'the show must go on’ thing should take its rightful place next to this 'stiff upper lip' nonsense - it is old fashioned, and when you're dealing with humans, it simply isn't applicable. Amy Winehouse is a tragic example, there are plenty of clips of her stumbling around the stage, clearly in no state to be there. It is obvious she needs help and support, but not wanting to refund tickets or anger thousands of fans, she's clearly been ushered onto the stage to share her suffering publicly. What the industry doesn't realise is that this robs the fans even more, they'd rather reschedule or get a refund and see Amy get well, than see half a show with an artist who can barely talk only to hear tragedy in the news in the following months.
That being said, are we bad people for worrying? Let's face it, we are in a cost of living crisis and concert tickets ain't cheap. I'd be lying if I said that when I started to see this trend occurring, I didn't for a moment think about my concert tickets for next year that I have spent most of my wages on. It is natural, and it doesn't make us bad people - but what can we do? I don't think anyone would have any reservations over an artist cancelling a gig for mental health, however, we'd all feel a sense of disappointment if the thing we'd spent the best part of our savings on and a year looking forward to suddenly got pulled. But is this part of the problem? We can't help it, but sort of, yes. Artists don't want to disappoint their fans, and unfortunately in the past that's what has caused much of the determination to keep the show going regardless.
It seems like a bit of a Catch 22. So what can be done?
For me, it's a simple answer, but probably one that won't happen. The reality of tours is that they are a cash cow, there's a huge demand for tickets and they usually fetch a premium. It is also still probably the most effective way an artist can promote themselves and their music. Despite all this, the simple answer to me is clearly to slim down tours. In this day and age, we still see artists release tour schedules that cover nearly every single night for the best part of a year. Would it really be a tragedy if artists decided to do one gig every three days, or even one gig a week? Not only would it protect their mental health, it would protect their physical health. All of the health problems Phil Collins is facing now comes from years of steroid injections giving him brittle bones. Having read his autobiography, it became completely common for him to need the injections to fix his vocal chords, having not had enough time to naturally recover from the previous night. It seems crazy to me that the industry is still allowed to push artists in this way, and I think it is time that artists take a stand. Trim down tours, allow more recovery time and in turn reduce last minute cancellations. It's time the industry took responsibility for their artists' wellbeing.
We caught up with the boys minutes before they went on stage at The Long Road festival to discuss new projects, performing in the UK and The Beach Boys!
D - David, M - Maxim C – Chris, P - Preston
D: So, coming over to the UK, it’s a very niche and loyal following, quite different to the US. How do you find it coming and playing over here?
P: Well this is our very first time in the UK ever. We came a week early so we could introduce ourselves to all the media and make it feel like home a little bit. C: We've always been like, 'How in the world have we not been here yet!' We tried! We had great success on an independent label, but with that success the music was coming over here but we couldn’t get over here, the money wasn’t right yet. So when we got to BMG we told our new label, 'Hey, we need to get over here to the UK, get in front of those fans and show them what we have been doing in the past couple of years!' They finally got us over here, we’re excited! I love the loyalty, you definitely see it. Our friends, like The Cadillac Three, told us that the fans know every word to every song, not just the hits that we write, and that’s refreshing to hear.
M: People sometimes talk about how UK listeners are different. Maybe in America there’s more of an emphasis on just having a good time, playing to the bar crowd kind of thing, whereas we maybe focus more on the lyrics over here. Is that something you’ve found?
P: Well, from what we’ve heard so far that’s what it’s going to feel like today. For Chris and I, one thing that’s always been true, is that when we hit that stage we want to make sure everybody is having a good time; they’ve got their hands up and they’re singing along and they’re engaged. That’s what we try to do, we try to connect. C: It’s their show too. It’s our show but it’s their show too. They purchase the music, they listen to the music, they love the music and that’s why we write it.
D: So, being a music and mental health magazine, we often ask people we work with if they could name a song that means the most to them in terms of mental health. Could you each name one? Is there one that you’ve written that means a lot to you in particular?
C: I could tell you one that we’ve written that’s on our album. I know from the US a lot of people come up to say, ‘Hey, this song changed my life’, ‘this song puts me in a good mood when I went through a bad depression’ or ‘when I went through cancer and fighting it’, and that’s ‘I Love This Life’. It’s a song that has really done that for us and to hear that from people makes us want to go out and sing more. That song has really pushed that envelope and really helped a lot of people. For me in particular, I just think music is life and that can change in two seconds when that good song comes on. I know those songs like when Huey Lewis comes on, or when The Beach Boys come on I’m like, ‘Yeah, alright!’ It puts me in a good mood! All that music like that for me, but ‘I Love This Life’ has done that for us and is showing us what we can do. P: We’ve had people come up to us and tell us that ‘I had cancer, I was driving to my next chemotherapy treatment and ‘I Love This Life’ came on and it made me smile’. That’s the kind of stuff that, when we wrote the song, we weren’t thinking about, we were just trying to uplift people to sing along and have a good time. We had no idea it would help somebody in their darkest days. C: We had a four star general of the United States, a very good friend of ours now, he said he was going through a really rough time and he said ‘I Love This Life’ is one of his favourite songs. He actually hired us a few years later to do a USO tour with him! P: We still pay him the $20 to say that...!
M: The song that epitomises what you said for me is the song you recently did with the Beach Boys, which is awesome and it’s so uplifting. I was just wondering how that collaboration came about?
C: We wrote a song called ‘Beach Boys’ and we were writing this beachy song. Nobody in America has written and used the OGs of beach music and the Beach Boys are it man. They’re the positivity and the beach surfing and the girls. We wrote it and did our own little harmony on it, but we had to get it approved by Brian Wilson and Mike Love and we did not think that was going to happen! So we were trying to change the music and Mike ended up calling Preston and saying, ‘Not only do me and Brian approve of this, we want to sing on this’. P: I didn’t know if he was calling to sue us or if he was calling to work with us! Thank God it was to work with us! C: It’s been a blast. Those guys are amazing. They’re always telling us stories. Actually, they were just over here and they were telling us their favourite place to perform is the Royal Albert Hall, they love it there! They were really good friends with the Beatles so they could tell us stories about how Brian and Paul and Mike and Paul would write, and Mike went out with Lennon and Harrison to a meditation trip. Dating girls and going on double dates - just incredible stories! P: Bruce was telling us one time he asked a girl to go on a dance and the Beatles were at the dance. The band started playing a slow song so Bruce asked the girl to dance. They were 20 years old or something; they were young cats! He closed his eyes to savour the moment and when he opened them the Beatles had locked arms around them swaying, just having fun like we would do! Those stories are priceless. They’re teaching us, they’re an inspiration to us and I’m glad we are bringing them back on the radio!
M: You talked about the Beach Boys being the original for that beachside style of music. I think it’s interesting because when you think of the beachside, Gulf and Western style of music you maybe think of Jimmy Buffett or Kenny Chesney. It’s interesting that this brings in the idea of genre fluidity in that the Beach Boys haven’t already been integrated into a song in this way before this. Why do you think that is?
C: That’s a very, very good question. I mean they did some stuff with Willie Nelson. P: Yeah, they did a little country project where they sang the Beach Boys songs and had a bunch of country artists duet with them, but never like this. I just got a text message from Mike the other day as soon as the song hit 50 in the charts and was still climbing. It said, ‘You boys just got us back in the record business’. It gave me goosebumps! These guys are 80, and they’re doing 180 shows a year but they don’t really have a current single on the radio right now like they did back then, so it’s exciting for all of us. C: They don’t need it, you know what I mean? They have a new album with 80 songs on it, monster songs. They don’t need to do this but I think they feel it’s fun and it's keeping them young. They do 180 shows a year still. But yeah that’s a really good question, and that’s what we thought when we were writing it, why hasn’t anyone worked with the Beach Boys? We’re glad to be the ones!
D: Sometimes in other genres we see a lack of respect for the past, sometimes the new guys come in and want to take over. I love that in country music, people pay homage to the past and the people before them. When you get to a point when people are paying homage to you, how do you think that’s going to be, and of the up-and-coming artists now, who would you want to be the ones to reach out to you in the same way that you have to the Beach Boys?
P: Well, we’d be really old, but man, that would be the coolest! C: There’s Restless Road, they’re a great band, they’re great dudes and they want to do some stuff with us. They want to do some sort of mash-up of maybe all boy-band songs. P: I love those guys! I mean, we’re going to be 80 when all this happens - those dudes probably aren’t even born yet! I think we’d be flattered by anyone reaching out to us and saying that they’re an artist and they appreciate what we do. I don’t care who, solo, group of boys or girls - as long as someone called and said we influenced them in any kind of way, then I know we’ve done a good job.
M: You recently put out an EP, and I wanted to ask if there’s any new music coming, or any big plans you can tell us about?
C: Yeah, the EP ‘Woods and Water’ is out and we are pushing that right now. We've got some new stuff coming up, maybe at the beginning of 2023. The EP has the Beach Boys song, ‘Sipping Sunset’ and ‘Chillionaire’, there’s some good music just packed onto that little EP. We’ve also been talking about doing this 100 song drop. P: It’s kind of a secret - well, not anymore, I think the secret is out!
D: Can we claim the exclusive?
P: Yes! C: We would essentially drop it, and then everybody decides what they want to make into the next album. You can listen to all 100 if you want, or you could make a top ten of your favourites and make your own album. P: It’s never been done before, we want to market it with the 100 emoji!
D: Simple but effective!
P: Right!? C: Yeah, you can make your own greatest hits or do whatever you want with it!
M: Awesome guys, thank you so much, we really appreciate your time. Good luck with your set and we will see you on stage!
Recently I had a weekend of firsts. My first attendance at the Long Road Festival, my first time meeting Locash, and my first time hearing them live!
As someone who is still relatively new to the tight knit community (especially in the UK) that is country music fandom, I’m ashamed to admit that I really wasn’t that familiar with LOCASH heading into the Leicestershire based Long Road country music festival - but I’m definitely familiar with them now.
In fact, heading to the festival, nothing seemed familiar. Winding through country roads, up and down hills and through woodlands I was pretty sure the navigation was letting me down, until a small yellow sign emerged marked ‘Long Road Festival’. Again, naively, I hadn’t done my homework and being new to the genre had little knowledge of the festival. Expecting to turn up to a field with a gazebo and hot dog stand, you can imagine my delight when I rounded a corner and saw a horizon of tents and campervans, backdropped beautifully by the proudly standing Stanford Hall.
The festival was a joy to behold and was one of the sleekest and most well organised that I’ve had the pleasure to experience. The beautiful setting was utilised to the fullest with multiple stages, all capturing their own unique atmosphere. Rhinestone greeted us upon arrival, a large festival style stage primed for atmospheric anthems to get the crowd bouncing. A walk past this stage took you to the Front Porch Stage. This beautiful stage was styled as a small shack with, you guessed it, a front porch where artists would perform acoustic style sets. The porch was opposed by straw bail seating and fire pits to create a real country feel. Further into the grounds was Interstate, an open sided tent styled as a dancehall and giving a much more enclosed feel. Further performance areas included Buddy’s Good Time Bar and the Showground, each offering something different as the day went on.
Having had the chance to speak briefly with LOCASH in the afternoon I was blown away by their energy. I often feel guilty in this role when we speak to artists, as sometimes you can really tell that interviews aren’t their thing, but the duo were more than happy to take the time to speak with us and did so with as much charisma as we could possibly ask for. After this I was keen to make it for their early evening set to see what all the fuss was about.
And boy, did I.
Now The Cadillac Three are a sensational group and were worthy of headlining this event, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating to suggest that LOCASH stole the show. From the moment they stepped on stage to the moment they left it their energy was at the maximum, and the crowd absolutely fed off of it. In a way it almost didn’t matter what song they were playing because everyone was just having the best time dancing, bouncing and partying.
I think the biggest thing is that I enjoyed it despite not being that familiar with the band. We’ve all been there at gigs of bands, even the ones we know and love, but when they start bringing out the new numbers and we all start to get a bit bored; tapping our fingers and waiting for one of our favourites. With LOCASH I didn’t really know any of their songs, but I felt like I did. The set flew by and I was genuinely gutted when they left the stage, as far as I was concerned they could have stayed there for hours.
Interspersing their own songs with a few cheeky covers of old favourites, some hilarious anecdotes as well as giving their appreciation for the crowd, they engaged everyone throughout. It’s another common one isn’t it when we see people live - ‘(insert random city name here) we love you guys!’ But with LOCASH it felt like they meant it, and I hope they did. They seemed to be genuinely taken aback by the energy of the UK crowd and the response they were getting. Roars of approval went up in the air as they began planning their next trip across the pond live on stage, pointing to Stanford Hall in the background with a grin and shouting, ‘We’ll stay there!’ In our interview with LOCASH before the set, they had stated how much they were looking forward to playing, and that their gigs are really for their fans so they aim to bring as much energy as possible - I don’t think anyone can argue that they did just that. Having walked past the main stage plenty of times during the day we saw loads of artists performing to a crowd, the majority of which were enjoying from the comfort of deck chairs or at a distance, but with LOCASH everyone was jumping around. The crowd seemed to grow and grow and everyone who was walking past realised just how damn entertaining these guys are!
I have to also give credit to the touring band that accompanied the two brothers. They brought with them just as much energy and charisma. Even in the soundcheck the lead guitarist had the fans engaged, turning their mimicking of his signals to the sound engineer into a little game and encouraging big cheers from the crowd whenever he had a chance. It’s a little touch but it just helped to generate that extra energy before the music even started.
I think LOCASH were the perfect encapsulation of the festival as a whole. The atmosphere around the whole place was electric, and for people who love a genre that is perhaps a little niche in this country, it was their chance to don the boots and the cowboy hats and to fit right in. Whilst LOCASH seemed surprised and delighted by the love they were receiving from the UK crowd, I think it meant just as much to the crowd that LOCASH were loving us. It wasn’t just a charismatic performance that got the crowd pumping and it wasn’t just an exceptionally good live rendition of their music; it was all those things and more. I’ll definitely be watching out for when the boys make it back to the UK and booking my tickets, and I encourage you to do the same. Even if you aren’t familiar with the band or don’t even like country music, I can promise you that you will have a good time.
Wyoming's Ian Munsick chats to Maxim about faith, getting homesick, and the importance of creative freedom.
"Being outside, especially in the Rockies where I call home, that’s where I feel the most alive."
Your recent single, ‘More Than Me’, is one of my favourite songs at the moment. The key lyric ‘She loves Him more than me’ would turn any other song into a heartbreak song. But in ‘More Than Me’ it takes on a completely different meaning, which makes it all the more powerful, and offers a really unique take on faith. I read that it took you a number of years to finish this song. What was it that kept you going back to it, and what made it finally click for you?
I saw one of my old college friends get married four years ago. He was really nervous, and the preacher asked him, ‘Why do you love her?’ And he just smiled and said, ‘I love her because she loves Jesus more than me.’ And I was like, ‘Dude, that’s a song right there!’ I brought the idea to one of my best friends, Carlton Anderson, and we kicked it around. We then brought it to another of my songwriting friends, Phil O Donnell. His faith speaks very loudly about who he is, so we knew he was a great person to bring this song to. We worked on it for a few hours, but we couldn’t really wrap our heads around it. I didn’t want to rush it, because it really felt like a special one. I took it home and over the next few days wrote out the rough scheme of the song. Then I brought what I had to another renowned songwriter, Casey Beathard, and he loved it. He tweaked it, and then finally we got it to where it is now. It took three years, but it was worth the wait, man. It reinforces the overall message that I’m trying to bring to the world, which is to live a positive lifestyle.
Faith is hugely important to my mental health. Two other potential methods of easing anxiety are offered on your latest song…‘Horses and Weed’! What made you choose this as a single?
Man, throughout my career I’ve always been very yin and yang with my releases. I released ‘Long Live Cowgirls’ in January, and then ‘Cowboy Killer’ a few weeks after that, and they are polar opposites. One is extremely traditional and the other is very contemporary. As an artist, I always feel like I owe it to my audience to give them all of me, and not just the same thing over and over again. I think that’s a mistake that country music has fallen into in the last few years. I wanted to release one that was completely different to ‘More Than Me’, but that still has a common thread. ‘Horses and Weed’ has the same message about promoting positivity and freedom in life, and just staying on the bright side. I grew up with horses and cows on a ranch, and every time I go home that’s the happiest I am, because I can feel the freedom in the air. Being outside, especially in the Rockies where I call home, that’s where I feel the most alive, man. Country music has often held the stereotype about being all about trucks and beer. Instead of trucks and beer, it’s all about horses and weed where I’m from!
You’ve touched on the fact that your have a unique sound that’s hard to pin down - I think of you as being traditional country, but at the same time there are bluegrass, EDM, R&B and experimental influences throughout your debut album. How would you describe your music?
I love to produce my own music. It gives you a freedom to express yourself however you want, instead of trying to channel your art through another creator. When the production element comes into play, I feel like there are no boundaries for me. There are probably five or so A-list producers in Nashville that do one lane really, really well, and that the majority of artists will bring their music to. That's great, man, because they’re amazing. I do think it’s important to choose your lane, but I want my lane to be as wide as possible. That’s why producing or co-producing my own music is really important to me. That’s how you go from 808s to drop to steel guitar all in the same album. Overall, I would say that my sound is a firm handshake between traditional and modern country music. It’s definitely not the same old country and Western tunes, but I definitely drew a lot of influence from them because of where I grew up. Growing up I would steal CDs from my brother, so I’ve been influenced by everyone from Eminem to Blink-182 to George Jones. My music taste is really all over the place.
Songs like ‘Mountain Time’ really capture this sense of finding ‘home’, and in your music natural spaces and landscapes play a key part in building this picture of a safe, comforting place where you can just escape the stresses of the world. There’s perhaps an irony in the fact that singing about your love of home has propelled you away from home, as you’ve now moved from Wyoming to Nashville and spend a lot of time on tour! How does that balance work for you, and do you get homesick?
Yeah, man, I get homesick. We hit the road really hard. I’ve lived in Nashville for the past ten years, I have a wife and kid out here, who was born here. But when I think of the word ‘home’, I still think of Wyoming. I think that’s what inspires me to write about home, because I miss it and it’s on my heart. Whereas if I still lived in Wyoming, I would probably just be happy and outside all the time, and I wouldn’t have time to write music. Here in Nashville, I am here for one reason - to create music. Being on the road as much as I am also plays into that - my song ‘Come Home To You’ epitomises this. Usually, I’m gone all week and I come home at the end of the week to my wife and kids. Being away from home is what inspires those songs about home. If you’re at home all the time, you’re probably gonna be writing about wanting to be away from home!
Is there an album on the way?
Yes there is! ‘More Than Me’ and ‘Horses and Weed’ are the first two tracks on it. The album will be coming in 2023.
Lastly, something we ask all our interviews, what would be your top three songs with a theme of mental health?
It was very hard for me to pick individual songs, so I have artists instead -
1. The Beatles They’re my favourite band of all time, I draw a ton of inspiration from them. That goes back to the beauty of producing your own music - The Beatles were able to reinvent themselves over and over again. If you listen to their first album and then their last album, you think, ‘How is this the same band?’ - yet it still all works. Every time I hear them, I’m always re-inspired to create. And when I’m creating, that’s when I feel the fire in my heart and I’m happiest, because I know that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.
2. George Strait Every time I hear his music, I’m inspired to up my songwriting game. The songs he’s cut over the years are timeless, and you can listen to them now and they have just as much impact as if you’d listened thirty years ago. George is always one I’ll turn to and he’ll take me back home as well, which has been a theme in this conversation.
3. George Jones This might seem like a weird one, because George Jones probably has the saddest songs in Country music! I hear his music and I think, ‘You know what, my life is pretty good! That guy is going through it, so compared to him I’m doing ok!’ I feel like I will never go through as many hard times as he has.
Do you have plans to come over and perform in the UK?
Man, I would love to. I really want to go over there just to experience your Country crowds - I’ve only ever played in the US, so I’d love to head over there soon.
Ian Munsick’s latest singles, ‘More Than Me’ and ‘Horses and Weed’, are out now!
I’m a sucker for a live version of a song, and often, I end up preferring the live rendition to the original. While Larry Fleet’s spiritual ballad, ‘Where I Find God’, will always be a classic, hearing it live on his latest Live Sessions Vol 1 project frames it in an entirely new light.
The subtle, angelic choir accompaniment builds throughout the track, and the sparser live arrangement shifts the focus more firmly onto Fleet’s vocals. In my view, Fleet boasts one of the most irresistible voices in contemporary Country. Listening to his deep, husky croon is the sonic equivalent of taking a warming sip of Tennessee Fire.
Faith is the hook upon which all the other features of this project are hung, with Fleet recruiting Christian powerhouse Zach Williams for ‘This Too Shall Pass’ and ‘Midnight Rider’. This is a dream pairing, with both possessing vocals that flit mercurially between power and intimacy - perfectly mirroring two complimentary pillars of faith.
‘Highway Fleet’ revolves around a playful, bluegrass riff and a light, tinkling piano that melds seamlessly together with Fleet’s driving vocals. ‘Try Texas’ is a more laid-back affair, but one that treads closer to the footsteps of ‘Where I Find God’. ‘Try Texas’ delivers another message of holding onto hope when despair seems the only option. Nashville just reminds him of lost love, so Fleet simply shrugs his shoulders and muses, “Maybe I’ll try Texas”.
‘Having a Girl’ is another highlight, and epitomizes Fleet’s ability to draw the spotlight in and onto one specific detail or moment, before then building this out into a moving, bigger-picture anthem. The song finds Fleet leaning into his workin’ man, average Joe persona as he outlines how not much has ever been able to faze him - that is, until his wife ‘rocks his world’ by telling him he’s having a baby girl.
It’s a timeless, down-home honesty that never feels forced for the sake of radio play or fan appeasement. With Fleet, it really feels as though what you see is what you get, and the raw feel of these live renditions accentuates the finer sketchings of this image. This selection of tracks not only captures the magic of live music, it also beautifully imparts a sense of optimism and an overwhelming sense of assurance in being exactly who you are. Fleet sounds comfortable in himself, and he resists the temptation to try and fit into any kind of prepackaged box or traffic-jammed lane. ‘Where I Find God’ rightly continues to pique the most interest, but even so, every track on Live Sessions Vol 1 serves as another reason to eagerly anticipate Larry Fleet’s next studio album.
Live Sessions Vol.1 is out now on all platforms.
We live in a divided society. The term ‘You’ll never please everyone’ feels more relevant than ever as around the globe people are polarised by their opinions. Left vs right, new vs old, and, of course, Jacob vs Edward; it feels like there’s always a disagreement to be had somewhere - and thanks to social media, you don’t have to look too far to find it.
One of the more prominent debates - or 'feuds' would maybe be more appropriate - is the endless passive aggressive (and sometimes just aggressive) ramblings of millennials and baby boomers as they go at each other hammer and fist about who ruined everything, who’s had a harder time and who is just worse in general. So, who better than myself, a millennial, to see if there’s actually any substance to either side of the argument; or whether it’s just keyboard warriors with too much time on their hands.
According to many boomers this is a concept that millennials will not be familiar with. It’s the argument that’s bandied about the most; millennials love to sit and complain about the world and how hard life is, but really if they just got off their backsides and put in some graft, for once, maybe they’d achieve something with their lives. This is usually responded to with some quip about how boomers had a much easier time of things back in the good old days. So, is there substance to either side?
Well, as a millennial, it’s hard not to feel a little insulted when the generation before us writes us all off as lazy. It’s no secret that times are tough. The world is literally being destroyed, the economy sucks, politicians suck and the employment market sucks. House prices have gone crazy in this past year or so, and even before that were steadily increasing at a rate that is hugely disproportionate to that of the average salary. I won’t bore/depress you all with the figures, but the fact of the matter is that it’s just a lot more difficult to buy property these days, unless you’re in a very well paid job. Well guess what, that’s harder too. The employment market now is very different to what it has been in the past. How many stories have you heard from as little as 30 years ago of companies taking a chance on someone only for them to work their way up the ladder; or your grandad telling you he walked into some company or other, told them he wanted a job and got his first pay cheque the next week. Nowadays, even to come in at the very bottom of the pile, university degrees and experience just simply aren’t enough. Half the time you fill out two hours’ worth of application forms and skills tests for a job only to hear nothing back. So what if you went and got an education, so did the other 80 people who applied. Let’s not forget that we are looking into our long futures at a planet scarred by climate change and an ever-growing overpopulation problem. Whilst we aren’t angels, we certainly haven’t been around long enough to do that sort of damage. It’s like getting your inheritance through and finding you’ve been left a burning building – sure, you’d always wanted the house, but there’s not much you can do with it now.
So it seems that life was just easier back in the day, right? People could walk into half decent jobs, earn good money and buy a house – and guess what – thanks to the housing market, you’d be able to sell that profit on for a ludicrous amount of profit 10 years down the line. Millennials aren’t just whinge bags, we have it tough!
Well, true…ish. Sure, things are tough right now, but when it comes to these social arguments millennials are just as bad as the boomers. It often seems that us millennials are so wrapped up in our own hardships that we forget that other people had their own. Of course there were some things that were better back in the day, but there are some things that are better now. The term boomer literally comes from the baby boom, a phenomenon during and after the second world war in which soldiers would return home, and after time away would want to start families. We are literally talking about a generation born into a world trying to pick up the pieces after one of the most brutal conflicts the world has ever seen. Even moving later into the generation, the 60s through to the 80s was a time of huge divide and was far from a picnic politically. Sure, we can look back and say that jobs were easier to come by and money was easier to make, but it’s not like it was all hunky dory. Also, is it fair to blame boomers for climate change? Everything these days is disposable; everything gets thrown away and everything is wrapped in copious amounts of plastic. It’s not always been like that, and as a generation we have to take some responsibility for how we act for the environment. After all, in the good old days, if something was broken it got fixed, not chucked.
So, maybe the boomers didn’t have it easy, but does that make it right to label us all as whingers? Well, sort of. I mean, we are a little, aren’t we? Let’s face it, as a generation we were born with the world at our fingertips. Thanks to vast developments in technology, we now have the attention spans of goldfish and expect everything instantaneously. Travel is easier than ever before and we interact with technology 24/7. Have we got used to the easy life it has given us? Recently, I was driving home from the Long Road festival when the sat nav on my phone that links to the screen on my car inexplicably decided not to play ball. The signal was blotchy and even when I managed to get some it wouldn’t link through properly – just all-around frustrating times. I remember an urge to launch my phone out of the window bubbling up inside me – but looking back now, it makes me realise that maybe we don’t realise how good we have it. I’m not saying our life is easy by any stretch, I know first hand it isn’t, but actually looking back at that I realised how privileged we are. I was annoyed because the device that at the touch of a button literally guides me the whole way home, tells me what lane to drive in and where the speed cameras are momentarily didn’t work, but what about times before us when people were juggling paper road maps and trying to figure out where they actually were; relying on road signs to guide them and just praying that they ended up somewhere familiar. A common jibe I see from boomers is that us millennials don’t understand how to save money, and that if we did, maybe things wouldn’t be so tough. This sometimes feels like a stupid argument, as if scraping together our pennies will be the difference between us being nowhere near and able to afford a house worth 15 times our salaries; but there is some truth to it. I know plenty of people who complain all the time that they’re broke, but don’t bat an eyelid at spending six quid on a posh coffee. Even when I was a kid, it seemed that luxuries were few and far between as our parents seemed to have to work much harder to make their money last, even though in reality they were probably somewhat better off. Sure, dropping your coffee order isn’t going to get you that house in the next 30 years, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up on saving money, does it?
I’m not going to say that any generation has it easier or harder, because the truth is I don’t think they do. Both present different challenges. Sure, it winds me up when a boomer calls my generation lazy, as much as it probably winds them up when we suggest that they didn’t have any real issues to deal with, or when we blame them for climate change.
The real takeaway is that both generations need to look inwards. Boomers really need to begin to appreciate that actually, just because they managed to buy a house when they were 19 from a lower-than-average salary ,that doesn’t mean millennials should be able to do the same. The fact is, times are different now and it wouldn’t hurt to have a little understanding. Similarly, millennials need to realise that, actually, we are pretty lucky to have a lot of the luxuries we have, and that technology has certainly made some aspects of our lives easier. We also need to understand that we aren’t the first people in the world to have hard times, and that just because things suck for us doesn’t mean they don’t for anyone else. Beyond that, I guess the real takeaway would be to stop arguing with people on Facebook; it just isn’t worth anyone’s time and only serves to leave two people who have never met filled with anger and contempt.
Sometimes we just need an escape from the real world. Some of us like to read books, some like to watch films and some like to listen to music. What if, however, I told you there's a way to combine all three? Here's David and Maxim's top ten songs for you to get lost in the story of.
10. Started A Band - Ben Burgess
This is admittedly a bit of a rogue choice, and not a song I immediately warmed to, but it’s nonetheless a track that provides a hugely memorable storyline. Our protagonist takes his girlfriend to a concert, only for her to end up going home with the lead singer following the after-show Meet-and-Greet. As he wallows in his frustration, Burgess decides to start his own band in retaliation. At first, he only has the proverbial ‘man and his dog’ to perform to. However, in a satisfyingly cyclical conclusion, Burgess ends the song by - truthfully - recounting playing in front of a hundred thousand fans in support of country megastar, Morgan Wallen. And, perhaps less truthfully, the girl that spurned him all those years ago turns up for the Meet-and-Greet. Does she go home with him? In a wonderfully petty move, Burgess details what happens, “When she ran around back when the show was over/I took the picture, acted like I didn't know her”. Despite being a musically intense song, it has a light-hearted, fun feel - and the hook is irresistibly catchy. MM
9. Stan - Eminem
This weird and wonderful tune came from the era of peak Eminem. From the perspective of an infatuated fan, the song details the letters that Stan writes to Em, which for the most part don’t get to him. Stan becomes increasingly infuriated at his lack of response and the letters grow increasingly obsessive, aggressive and strange. The tragic end to the song is the tape Stan records driving down the highway with his long-suffering girlfriend locked in the boot before the car goes flying off the edge. It’s certainly not an easy listen, but has always intrigued me as a song, and the iconic chorus from Dido, also performed live by Elton John, is somewhat of a shining light in an otherwise very dark song. DD
8. Wait in the Truck - HARDY ft. Lainey Wilson
Another classic country murder ballad, HARDY and Lainey Wilson combine to produce one of the stand-out songs of 2022. HARDY outlined that the song was inspired by a non-physical altercation that his wife had been involved in, where a guy had tried to chat her up in a bar. He expanded out the idea and created a darkly captivating song about a man who comes across an abused woman while driving one night. He tells her to “wait in the truck”, and he subsequently heads straight to the man’s house and delivers the woman’s retribution. Despite going to prison for his crime, HARDY definitely comes off as the hero of the song, and the ominously dramatic music video that accompanies it is well worth a watch. MM
7. I Don't Care - Quadeca
This is one of my favourite songs, and I actually wrote a piece on it in the last issue. A great song to listen to, but also an incredibly clever and well written one. Within the song, Quadeca is clearly suffering, struggling to come to terms with his successes and life in general. However, this isn’t made apparent to us from the off. We only really find out that ‘I don’t care’ is not a genuine statement, but an attempt to convince himself, when in the second verse he details the story of a message he received on Instagram from someone whose friend was a fan of Quadeca, and tragically just killed themselves. The climax, and the ‘plot twist’ if you will, is when Quadeca discovers the kid that killed himself had messaged Quadeca before, and he had consciously ignored the message as one of the many he receives from fans every day. A tragic story but a really beautiful song. DD
6. Jamie - Zach Bryan ft. Charles Wesley Godwin
This is one of my favourite songs at the moment, and undoubtedly one of the hidden gems in Zach Bryan’s impressive repertoire. With the help of the stunning vocals of his good buddy, Charles Wesley Godwin, Zach tells the tale of a man who stumbles out of a bar late one night, and decides to take a long drive. At first, we’re not sure where he’s heading, but we then learn that he’s on his way to meet his love. He realises he’s being followed by the Police, presumably for drunk driving, but he continues on regardless. When he finally reaches his destination at dusk, his pursuers draw their guns, just as we learn that Jamie’s actually been driving to the grave where the love of his life was laid to rest, after she passed away when they were only young. The story concludes in a beautifully bittersweet way, with the man being shot, which means that he is free to return to dance with his love “in the stars”. It’s full of visceral, haunting lyrics, such as, “The flashin' red and blue in a cracked rear view/He remembers a smile he once owned”. Be sure to check out the duo’s iconic live rendition of ‘Jamie’ on Zach Bryan’s new live album, which dropped on Christmas Day. MM
5. Ballad of the 20th Maine - The Ghost of Paul Revere
This song is a recent discovery for me, as are the band that sing it. Whilst curiously wandering around the Long Road festival this year we ended up stopping at the Buddy’s Good Time bar stage for a little. Having become impressed by the group performing; we then managed to hear them later on the Interstate stage. This beautiful folk song details the story of Andrew Tozier, who left his home in Maine to fight in the war in 1861. The song is absolutely beautiful to listen to but is also beautifully written. The lyrics play off like a ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ style war poem as the song details the battles and bravery of those involved. It’s one of those that, despite having nothing to do with the American Civil War or living anywhere near any of it, you can’t help but be filled with pride and energy as you listen. Unfortunately, I learned that, just as I had discovered this great band and their beautiful songs, they have decided to call it quits after 11 years. Thankfully I got the chance to see them live, and their music remains on Spotify! DD
4. There Goes My Life - Kenny Chesney
I accept that I may well be a tad biased, but for me, nobody pulls off a heart-wrenching, no-I’ve-just-got-something-in-my-eye ballad as well as King Kenny. The song opens with a young man finding out that his partner is pregnant, and all he can think about are the plans, hopes and aspirations that he’ll have to kiss goodbye as a result - “There goes my life”, he says. Then, we find him “a few thousand diapers later”, and he’s watching his beloved daughter, thinking, “There goes my life”, this time referring to her. Lastly, after another fast-forward, our protagonist is waiting to say goodbye to his daughter as she’s loading up her car and getting ready to head off to college. With a tear preparing its descent down his cheek, he muses wistfully, “There goes my life”. I’m not crying, you are. MM
3. The Dance - Garth Brooks
This song is one of Garth Brook’s most famous, which, considering he is one of the best-selling artists of all time, tells you how well known it is. The song is one of those that somehow seems to be simultaneously happy and sad. It focuses on a protagonist who reminisces about the beautiful moment he and his partner shared when they had ‘The Dance’ and looks back on how perfect it was. The thought is interrupted by the protagonist thinking about the eventual end of the road, imagining if only he could have known then that things wouldn’t work out. The real beauty in the song, and what makes it meaningful for a lot of people, is that he banishes these thoughts. He’s glad he didn’t know back then that the end was nigh because it would have ruined this perfect moment, and no matter what has or what will happen, he will always have that perfect moment to look back on. It’s a real tear-jerker, and for reasons you can imagine the song has since gained a lot of meaning to people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Although the song is really about a break-up, the sentiment translates perfectly, forgetting the end for a while to hold on to those precious moments, something that will always be with you even if the person isn’t any more. My one frustration with this song, or with Garth really, is that his songs don’t seem to be anywhere! You can find covers but unless you get hold of an old CD or something you’ll probably struggle to hear his version. DD
2. Next Thing You Know - Jordan Davis
After the success of ‘Buy Dirt’, many were wondering how Jordan Davis was going to follow up the CMA-winning single. ‘Next Thing You Know’ is how. This track flicks affectionately through all the key chapters of a man’s life, from meeting someone in a bar to moving in with them, and the next thing he knows he’s getting married and sitting happily “on a honeymoon beach”. The dexterity of how each stage of life is portrayed in all its colour and vibrancy, despite each one only receiving a couple of lines apiece, underlines how Jordan Davis is settling into the bigger-picture, storytelling sweet-spot that ‘Buy Dirt’ pinpointed. The most powerful lyrical sequence comes after he’s just found out his wife is pregnant: “Cause next thing you know/You're wearing scrubs and a funny white hat and the/Doctor's sayin', ‘How you doin' there, dad?’ and/Nobody's ever called you that”. MM
1. Paradise By The Dashboard Light - Meatloaf
What I didn’t realise when assembling this list is that most of the storytelling songs I know err on the sadder side of things; thankfully this one doesn’t! One of the most iconic songs from one of the most iconic albums from one of the most iconic artists, if I had to sum up this song with a word I’d have to say it’s…iconic! Thanks to Meatloaf's experience on the stage and the unique operatic writing style of Jim Steinman, this song is a full eight or so minutes of emotions and drama. The song follows two young teenagers who are sitting in a parked car getting hot and heavy. Meatloaf can’t believe his luck as a 17 year old enjoying the company of one of the prettiest girls in the school; "All the kids at school, they were wishing they were me that night". As the song moves on the mood gets steamier, but just before it's all systems go, the girl demands that they stop! Before they go any further she wants to know that he isn’t just using her. She insists that Meatloaf promise her that he will love her forever, but Meatloaf is reluctant; "Let me sleep on it, baby baby let me sleep on it", As you would expect, the 17 year old boy finally succumbs to his desires and makes all of these promises to the young girl - he’ll love her forever. This brings us to the final act of the song, suddenly we are 30 or so years in the future and Meatloaf and the girl are sick to the back teeth of each other! He can’t break his promise to stick until the end of time, but just wait in hope for that time to come! "I’m waiting for the end of time, so I can end my time with you". Honestly it’s so hard to do it justice with a written synopsis, because it has so many twists and turns and as you listen it evolves and evolves throughout. It’s an all-time favourite of mine and is a style of songwriting and performing that sadly we are unlikely to see again. DD
Megan Thee Stallion has always been divisive for me – having heard her freestyle raps and excellent lyrical skills, I’m always a bit underwhelmed when she releases music. Of course every successful artist who wants to sell music is a little at the mercy of whatever is working at the time, and maybe this is what influences Megan, but her music just never, for me anyway, seems to show her at her talented best. That being said, I have always admired Megan for treading her own path and not being afraid of criticism. Releasing a song called ‘WAP’ (we all know what it is by now I’m not going to spell it out) was always going to split opinions and cause reaction, but whilst some people saw a crude and explicit song with an equally crude and explicit video, some also saw a powerful play about women’s body autonomy, feminism and equality. After all, how many songs do we hear on the radio, and not bat an eyelid at, from men who discuss women in the same way – why shouldn’t the women be able to take charge of it?
Anyway, this wasn’t intended to be an article on feminism, and the point that I am making is that you can say what you want about Megan, but sometimes you just have to admire her. And I count myself in this, although her music isn’t really to my taste ,I do appreciate and understand what she’s doing, and I respect that she is an important player in the music industry game right now.
However, what I respect even more than that is her attitude towards mental health.
Rap has always had a tough exterior and this has often included the artists. Before Drake came along and changed the game, talking about any sort of emotion was often seen as a weakness and only those at the top (Biggie being a prime example) could do it and keep their respect. It would be easy for Megan, therefore, to lean into her ‘Bad Bitch’ persona and act like she hasn’t got problems, difficulties or challenges. Although times are changing, there’s an argument that it may have even helped her music and career to do so.
Despite all of this, Megan has recently announced a new website initiative for her fans called ‘Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too’, a lyric borrowed from her song ‘Anxiety’. Firstly, I love the title and I think it sets the tone so well. It’s so simple yet sends such a strong message to all of her fans. Not only does it reassure her fans that mental health issues don't make you any less of a ‘Bad Bitch’, it also suggests to the fans that idolise her that she too goes through what they go through, and actually that they’re all in it together. I think it’s so intelligent of her to lean into her ‘Bad Bitch’ persona in this way, owning the phrase and driving the message that tough times don’t define you, you can still be what you are, who you want or how you want to be.
The website is extremely simple and crisp but is laid out very effectively. The idea is to be a hub for mental health for her fan group, and I think that is exactly what she has achieved. Scrolling down through the site shows you various links to therapy platforms, articles, research, contacts and helplines. She also gives a specific focus to the LGBTQIA+ and black communities with numbers and links to hot-lines that are run specifically for people in these demographics. The site also contains a few quotes and a triumphant picture of Megan at the bottom looking as if to be somewhere between a scream and a roar – again, another really simple touch, but it just backs this message that you can be powerful and still have a hard time.
So, although musically Megan isn’t my favourite artist, she has always had my respect, and she’s earned it even more so now. This isn’t the first time Megan has spoken about mental health by a long stretch, and she has always been somewhat of an ambassador, but I love to see her really take a lead as an artist and pioneering something so simple yet so effective for her fans is really incredible. Whilst helping through all the resources provided on the actual site, the message it sends shouldn’t be underestimated and really encourages her fans to open up. I also think that being a role model for so many women, and particularly young women, Megan taking a stance on this offers real hope and empowerment. Not only is this a strong woman opening up about her mental health, she’s also telling all those that look up to her that it is okay. Often, when we see people in the limelight, we end up with such a refined and rehearsed image that when we try to emulate our role models it’s impossible for us. Megan’s message handles this perfectly, admitting her struggles but simultaneously stating that this doesn’t make her any less of the ‘Bad Bitch’ anyone thought she was. Think what you like about Megan, but no one can deny the importance of what she is doing.
Buy print editions of Mindful Melody Issue 12 below!