Morgan Wallen Shares His Journey And Growth In Creative 36-Song Record "One Thing At A Time"
There’s a reason why 36-song albums are usually unheard of - few artists have what it takes to pull off such a project. However, the legend that is Morgan Wallen does, once again pushing creative boundaries and authentically presenting himself in a triumphant release.
“This record is as personal and honest as I know how to be, and represents my journey over the past two years,” shares Wallen. “I loved being back in the studio making new music and I'm super excited to see what my fans think because this is for you guys.”
The extensive, first-of-its-kind One Thing At A Time contains so much to unpack - so let’s get straight into it, shall we?
Image credit: Big Loud Records
Prior to hearing it, many predicted that this record would serve as Wallen’s musical autobiography of sorts, and they would be correct. In some ways, One Thing At A Time portrays a life cycle. Not only do the opening and closing track titles reference birth and death respectively, the songs in between cover progressive growth. However, one aspect is unique about its storytelling. Unlike many landmark country albums (for example, Lindeville by Ashley McBryde or Growin’ Up by Luke Combs), it doesn’t aim to convey a coherent narrative from start to finish.
The order and nature of the album’s tracklist reflects the tumult of Wallen’s personal and professional life in the past three years. In 2021, he had struggled with his sudden burst into the spotlight, and since even before that, his drinking caused him to do things that he wasn’t proud of. By now, he has become sober and more grounded, strengthened his connection with God, and fallen into a smoother rhythm as a big mainstream artist. With that journey in mind, Wallen intentionally made One Thing At A Time a complex and loaded body of work for us to digest.
Video Thanks To Big Loud
He acknowledges that like with everyone, he still has room to grow, but One Thing At A Time’s sound reflects that relative sense of peace. Dangerous centered around risk-taking and a hard-hitting, chaotic sound. Even its ballads, like “Bandaid On A Bullet Hole,” were more poignant and biting; they had a significant cathartic factor. On the flip side, One Thing At A Time is steady, mature, and even forward-looking at times.
In “Born With A Beer In My Hand,” he acknowledges how heavily drinking factors into his country lifestyle and upbringing. This made his path to sobriety far from an easy one, but he’s trying his best to stay on it, though he may mess up sometimes. “’98 Braves” cleverly uses a baseball team as a metaphor for a failed relationship that almost worked. This song stands out because it contains more of a personal yet objective reflection; it gets less emotionally charged than much of Wallen’s previous work. “Yeah you win some, you lose some, it ain’t always home runs, that’s just the way life plays,” he sings in a resonant line.
Despite its overall mutedness and sentimentality, the album does have its hip-hop influenced moments. After all, Wallen has sort of become known for his unique blending of hip-hop and country music, so why would he leave that out of One Thing At A Time? We can’t get enough of the catchy “Ain’t That Some,” whose electric guitars and synth-infused production honestly reminded us of the single “Last Night” a little bit. While we’re unsure about the technique of spelling out words in songs - as he does with “country” and “try” in this one - we’ll give him a free pass simply because he is Morgan Wallen. The trap beats also appear on “180 (Lifestyle)” and “Cowgirls,” the former of which actually contains a Young Thug sample.
Last but not least, this record exemplifies his connection to his family. "Thought You Should Know," which currently tops Mediabase's country radio charts, is dedicated to his mother. His sister Ashlynne contributes harmonies to "Outlook." He even posed for the album cover photo outside of his grandmother's house. When he says that he'll never forget where he came from, he means so much more than just Knoxville, TN.
One Thing At A Time capsules Wallen’s artistic and personal growth in a sonically diverse masterpiece. Once again, he covers a variety of subtopics, pushes genre boundaries, truly resonates with listeners, and overall just keeps getting better at songwriting. The release of this raw, unfiltered, highly personal triple-album quite literally marks a historical event.
There’s so much more we could say about the record - after all, it contains 36 FREAKING SONGS - but this is basically the gist of it. We’re so proud of this king and how far he’s come! Happy International Morgan Wallen Day to you and yours!