Maren Morris is leaving the world of country music behind.
The “My Church” singer reflected on her relationship with the genre, explaining why she hasn’t felt as connected to it recently.
“The stories going on within country music right now, I’ve tried to avoid a lot of it at all costs. I feel very, very distanced from it,” Maren told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sept. 15. “I had to take a step back. The way I grew up was so wrapped in country music, and the way I write songs is very lyrically structured in the Nashville way of doing things. But I think I needed to purposely focus on just making good music and not so much on how we’ll market it.”
She added, “A lot of the drama within the community, I’ve chosen to step outside out of it.”
The news comes three months after fellow country star Jason Aldean drew controversy over his song and music video “Try That In A Small Town,” which critics have alleged promotes violence and has racist undertones. However, amid the backlash, his fans boosted it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.
“I think it’s a last bastion. People are streaming these songs out of spite,” Maren explained. “It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed—the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars.”
In fact, Maren appears to throw shade at Jason’s song with her new music video “The Tree,” part of a two-song EP The Bridge that was released Sept. 15. The clip includes a scene showing a sign that reads, “Welcome to our perfect SMALL TOWN from sundown to sunset.”
The 33-year-old had teased the video last week on Instagram, along with the caption, “I’m done filling a cup with a hole in the bottom,” the song’s opening lyric.
“I wrote this on the 10 year anniversary of my moving to Nashville. It’s about a toxic ‘family tree’ burning itself to the ground. Halfway through, I realize it’s burning itself down without any of my help,” Marin wrote in a new Instagram post. “By the end of the song, I give myself permission to face the sun, plant new seeds where it’s safer to grow and realize that sometimes there IS greener grass elsewhere.”
Maren’s apparent shady response to Jason’s song and video in hers comes a year after the Grammy winner feuded with her fellow country superstar and his wife, Brittany Aldean, over her comments about gender identity.
When asked by the Los Angeles Times if stepping back from country music meant “the libs have been owned,” Maren responded, “I’m sure some people may think that. And I would say, ‘Feel free. Go ahead.'”
She continued, “I don’t want to have an adversarial relationship to country music. I still find myself weirdly wanting to protect it. But it’s not a family member. That’s the f–ked-up part, is that I’m talking about it as if it’s a person, but it’s not.”
The Bridge, which also contains the track “Get the Hell Out of Here,” reflects her growing disillusion with country.
“These songs are obviously the result of that—the aftermath of walking away from something that was really important to you and the betrayal that you felt very righteously,” she noted. “But also knowing there’s a thread of hope as you get to the other side.”
And her new song “The Tree” appears to reflect that hope.
“I’ll never stop growin’,” she sings on the track, “wherever I’m goin’ / Hope I’m not the only one.”