How Morgan Wallen Honors His Family On His New Album, ‘One Thing At A Time’

Family is important to the Tennessee native.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 3, 2023

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Morgan Wallen with his mom, Lesli, and sister, Ashlyne; Photos by Photo by Getty Images for ACM, Instagram

On Friday (March 3), Morgan Wallen unveiled his highly anticipated One Thing At A Time project, which marks the first full-length release since his 2021 Dangerous: The Double Album.

The new album features 36 tracks that cover an array of themes from late-night anthems to small-town stories, heartbreak ballads, and more. Several of these songs also highlight a few of the people that have been by Wallen’s side for the entirety of his life. 

Morgan Wallen - One Thing At A Time Album Art
Morgan Wallen – One Thing At A Time Album Art

The Album Cover Tributes His Mamaw

Before listeners even have the chance to dive into the large track list, they are greeted with the album art, which holds a tremendous amount of family significance. The photos capture the record-breaking artist in front of the home of his late Mamaw (grandmother) in Sneedville, Tennessee.  

“My Mamaw Boots helped raise me. I had such a special bond with her, so I wanted to honor her with this new record,” Wallen shared in a press release. 

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A Song For His Mom

The heartfelt sentiments continue into his previously released tune, “Thought You Should Know,” which stands as track No. 17, and was co-written by Wallen alongside Miranda Lambert and Nicolle Galyon. As he delivers the tender lyrics of his 8th career No. 1, it becomes clear that the song comes in the form of a phone call to his mom, Lesli, and finds Wallen giving her an update on his life and all the things that he has gone through recently.

“What’s going on mama? / Something’s just dawned on me / I ain’t been home in some months / Been chasing songs and women / Making some bad decisions / God knows I’m drinking too much / Yeah, I know you’ve been worrying ‘bout me / You’ve been losing sleep since ’93,” Wallen sings.

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Recorded Three Songs Co-Written By His Cousin, Jared Mullins

Not only did Wallen’s family inspire some of his writes, but several of his relatives were also directly incorporated into the project. When it came to cutting outside songs, Wallen worked with a number of notable songwriters including his cousin, Jared Mullins. 

Mullins is credited for writing three songs for the project – “Devil Don’t Know” (Travis Denning, Jared Mullins, Ben Stennis), “Keith Whitley” (Thomas Archer, Brad Clawson, Jared Mullins) and “F150-50” (Jared Mullins, John Pierce, Ben Stennis).

Each of these tracks cover a different level of heartbreak that finds Wallen thinking about a past love interest. His sorrowful emotions come to life as he dissects the pain of seeing that person move on with someone else in “Devil Don’t Know,” while his gritty vocals compare a relationship timeline to the life of “Keith Whitley,” who’s story was cut far too short. The final installment of Mullins’ songwriting skills, “F150-50,” explores a heads or tails method as he ponders whether or not to try and rekindle an old flame.

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His Sister, Ashlyne, Sings Harmonies On “Outlook”

Another song that stands out is “Outlook,” as it features harmonies by Morgan Wallen’s sister, Ashlyne. With the help of her vocals, Wallen embarks on a journey of reflection that showcases the new perspective he’s taken on life and places an emphasis on his personal growth through the dreamy melody.

“I grew up in church singing three-part harmonies with my two sisters. That’s how I learned to sing, so this was a full-circle moment for Ashlyne and me,” Wallen shared in a previous press release. 

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He Thinks About His Son When Singing “Dying Man”

Wallen concluded the project with the song, “Dying Man,” co-written by Ben Johnson, Blake Pendergrass and Josh Thompson. During an interview with Country Countdown USA‘s Lon Helton, the singer opened up about how he has taken the original message behind this song and found a way to relate it to his own experience with fatherhood.

The song may have been written from the perspective of a man singing to a woman, but Wallen sings the vulnerable lyrics with his son, Indigo Wilder, in mind, crediting the young boy as the one who saved him from a difficult time in his life.

“’Dying Man’ is like, it’s a song that speaks on…I wasn’t always sure, I guess none of us were, you know, maybe I thought that I might die sooner than later. And then once my son came into the world, I felt like I had a whole new reason to live and to stick around. And this song is talking about a woman, but for me, it’s more to my son than it is to a woman,” he explained to Helton.

Beginning March 15, Morgan Wallen will bring his new collection to the stage on his 2023 One Night At A Time World Tour. The massive Stadium trek will kick off in Auckland, NZ at Spark Arena and continue on through 4 countries and 2 continents. Zimmerman and fellow country star ERNEST will serve as support throughout the entire journey. HARDY and Parker McCollum will also join the tour on select dates.

Produced by Live Nation, the North American leg of the trek will wrap up on October 7 at Tacoma Dome in Washington. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.