“There’s always a high and lonesome song that keeps on pushing me along.” This line from the title track and lead single of Meghan Patrick’s latest album Country Made Me Do It is classic country and serves notice that she is determined to revive and carry the traditional torch. Meghan lives hard and loves hard, and her songs reflect this passion. She loves trucks, fishing and hunting, riding horses and a good stiff glass of whiskey, and all of these elements fuel her countrified lyrics. Think the free spirit of Emmylou Harris from those magical days when she performed with Gram Parsons, combined with the spark and sensuality of Tanya Tucker, the only female to crack the Outlaw genre, and you begin to have some idea of what Megan Patrick is all about.
It’s been a banner year-and-a-half for the Bowmanville native in terms of radio play, live shows and awards ceremonies. Her debut album Grace and Grit, sprouted four Top 20 singles including her stirring duet with Joe Nichols on the Top 10 hit Still Loving You. In concert, she’s performed with superstars like Dwight Yoakam and Martina McBride, peaking with a show-stopping duet with Keith Urban at the Timmins Stars & Thunder Festival. She topped things off by winning Female Performer of the Year and Sirius XM Rising Star awards at the 2017 Canadian Country Music Awards.
“I did not expect those awards and I was certainly overwhelmed at the time,” says Meghan down the line from Bowmanville, where she is busy doing ‘radio stuff’. “Now I just feel really appreciative and grateful that my fans and peers felt that I deserved those honours. In one sense you can say that my career has been kind of short in terms of being in the mainstream and having a record deal, but within the last year the trajectory has been huge.”
Country Music Made Me Do It covers a wide range of subject matter. Walls Come Down, an ominous number about family strife, gives way to Bad Guy, a heartfelt ballad in which Meghan takes the blame for a failed relationship, and this is followed by the southern flavoured Hardest On My Heart, which opens with the classic country line ‘I’ve done some damage to my liver and my reputation’. The album’s definitive country song, however, may be the title track and first single which serves as an homage to the genre.
“I love traditional country music. It’s my passion and my goal has been to bring a little more of that traditional sound into the mainstream country market”, she says. “A lot of what’s out there right now is more on the pop side of country and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not what I want to do. Music in general has been the driving force behind most every decision I’ve made in my life. It has always been my priority and number one thing so you could say that country music made me do a lot of things.”
The album was produced by veteran Nashville song writer and producer Jeremy Stover who gives it a natural flow which seamlessly changes gears from song to song. Meghan’s debut record had a potpourri of producers including Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and Vince Gill. This time out she was looking for a more homogenous sound and she feels that she struck gold with Stover.
“That was important to me, having him do the full record,” she begins. “For the last album it was great to have all of the different producers in order for me to get a feel for what I wanted, and what worked and didn’t work for me. For this one, however, I wanted only one producer in order to make it a whole and cohesive project. I wanted all of the songs to feel like they went together and had consistency, and I think we were able to do that. When we started the project we wrote together, coming up with several songs including the title track which my friend Dan Isbell also had a hand in writing. Jeremy and I really clicked well and we had great chemistry in terms of writing. We eventually got a great chunk of the songs together through him and some of the other writers in his publishing company. When he said he’d love to produce the album I said, ‘Well yeah, I thought you’d never ask’.”
Meghan, who now lives in Nashville, co-wrote all but one of the 12 tracks on the album and it’s obvious that her skill in this area has grown by leaps and bounds. The sly wit of What Would George Strait Do and the sentimentality of Case Of Beer And A Bed are just two striking examples of her prowess with the pen.
“The idea for What Would George Strait Do came from a time that I was doing an interview. Sometimes you get asked cheesy questions like ‘Who’s your country crush?’, and I said that it was George Strait. The interviewer was kind of taken aback because I think he was expecting me to say Dierks Bentley or Luke Bryan or someone younger. George Strait is one of the last few cowboys. He’s a gentleman, he’s traditional and I’m kind of into that. The song basically says if you want to date me and you want to know how to treat me, just think about what George Strait would do.
Case Of Beer And A Bed is really about going back to the basics in life,” she continues. “For me a big part of that is fishing or going back to Bowmanville to ride my horse. You kind of find the things that help keep you grounded. I have a circle of friends that I’ve had since I was a kid, and it’s important to me to get back in touch with those people from time to time.”
The songs that perhaps best describe Meghan’s feelings about the new record and the stage that she’s at in her career is The Buzz. Like the songs says, ‘There’s a buzz coming from the Marshall stacks’ and Meghan can’t wait to be back on the road showcasing her new material.
“I’m really proud of the record and I’m really excited about it because I think there’s been a lot of progression from the last one,” Meghan says. “I feel I grew a lot, especially as a songwriter. I feel like Jeremy did an amazing job of pulling the best out of me and helped to create what is going to be my sound. You need to get out of your own head sometimes and get some other opinions on your vision of yourself in order to be effective.
“Now that the record is finished, the buzz that comes from hitting the stage is very different, for sure. The studio for me is a love-hate thing. I love it because you’re creating a representation of who you are as an artist. Because it’s a permanent, lasting representation there is a lot of pressure for the songs to be perfect, the vocals to be perfect…for everything to be perfect. When I get on stage I’m just there for the moment. I’m feeding off of the audience and I just want to put on a great show. Of course I want it to be perfect too, but it’s just a different moment and it’s live.”
Meghan will begin a tour with the James Barker Band in January, starting in Halifax and then heading west. Armed with an arsenal of strong songs and a dynamite live show, she is bent upon upping the ante and changing the current landscape of country radio.
“For me I don’t think there are enough females in the Top 20 or Top 10. I don’t even know who the last female was to get to Number One. I would love to be the person that changes that”.
With Country Music Made Me Do It serving as Meghan’s new calling card, don’t bet against her.
Other Country Stuff:
It seems like Christmas is just around the corner and the first country seasonal offering is on its way. Three-time CCMA Award nominee Twin Kennedy will release A Twin Kennedy Christmas on November 10. Known for their flawless harmonies, the siblings wrap their vocal cords around originals and holiday classics including the lead single Cold Weather and It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas.
Andrew Hyatt has just released a new single Do It With You, as a follow-up to his Top 10 hit On Me. Country stars Thomas Rhett and Rhett Akins each had a hand in writing the powerhouse ballad. You can hear Hyatt perform the song in concert as he’s currently a special guest on Dallas Smith’s Side Effects tour.
JUNO Award winner and platinum-seller Jess Moskaluke returns with her highly anticipated new EP Past the Past due out on November 3. The EP was preceded by the Number Three single Drive Me Away, making Jess the first Canadian country female artist to crack the Top Five in nearly a decade.