Single Review: Maren Morris, “I Could Use a Love Song”

“I Could Use a Love Song”
Maren Morris

Written by Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, and Laura Velts

On her Grammy-winning breakthrough, “My Church,” Maren Morris considered the spiritual awakening that music can inspire at its most powerful. Her third single, “I Could Use a Love Song,” takes a similar approach, considering the power of songs to heal and to make sense of a world that seems to have spun wildly out of control.

The single suffers somewhat from diminishing returns in comparison to “My Church” in that its scope is far smaller– while the previous hit remains a triumph of secular gospel, “I Could Use a Love Song” is a quieter, more introspective track– and its lyrics lack a singular point-of-view. The concept of a song about songs is hardly a new one, and that familiarity plays against Morris: While “I Could Use a Love Song” is more sharply written than, say, Blake Shelton’s “Every Time I Hear That Song” or Chase Rice’s “Three Chords And The Truth,” it still isn’t a patch on “The Song Remembers When,” still the gold standard for this particular theme.

What Morris does best here is manage the meter of language. She delivers key phrases in a slow staccato that emphasizes their place in the song’s narrative: “I wish I didn’t know / so / much,” or “It’s hurtin’ but it ain’t / dead/ yet.” It’s the kind of attention to detail that many of the genre’s best contemporary songwriters– Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, and Brandy Clark, to select just a few– incorporate into their writing, and it speaks to Morris’ substantive talents.

Her vocal turn is also solid. Her languid phrasing in the chorus brings a real sense of longing to her performance: She sounds weary and in search of the answers that a well-written love song can provide.

The track’s production– courtesy of Morris and her partner-in-crime, busbee– is its only real drawback. It’s slick to the point of sounding sterile; with its chintzy drum-machine backbeat and overly processed instruments, the track already sounds dated, like a contemporary version of Sylvia’s hits from the early 80s. For the moment, “I Could Use a Love Song” sounds fine enough, but its production all but guarantees that it won’t age well.

Grade: B

2 Comments

  1. Not a big MM fan. I’ve been trying to think of a better “song about songs” than “The Song Remember When”. I have to agree with your comment that the Prestwood-Yearwood song is the gold standard for this theme.

  2. I did something weird with the formatting of this post, so a comment got routed to a different section of the database…

    Reader Tom wrote:
    “…hands down one of this year’s best songs on country radio. i don’t find it difficult to follow jonathans critical links from an academic point of view, but the sum of not quite flawless parts still does the trick very nicely: this is just a remarkably performance by maren morris. hate the dramatic interruptions in the video clip, though.”

    I agree 100% about the interruptions in the music video; those are always super obnoxious.

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