Morgan Evans’ New EP Depicts His Recent Journey Which Can Only Be Described As, ‘Life Upside Down’
Country Now caught up with Evans to chat about the project.
Morgan Evans; Photo by Chady Awad
At the start of 2022, Morgan Evans was heading into a major year for his career. He was preparing to return home to headline CMC Rocks QLD Festival along with having some of the biggest arenas in Australia on the books for his tour. However, nearly a month before Evans was slated to take the stage of this festival, he and fellow country star Kelsea Ballerini announced their divorce.
This led Evans to write one of the most vulnerable songs of his career, “Over For You,” which then went viral for his performance at the CMC Rocks QLD Festival. Since then, he released a second song from this chapter, “On My Own Again,” that finds him learning how to go forward in this next phase of life and choosing to celebrate all the good that’s in front of him.
Both of these songs, plus the live version of “Over For You” have been added to Evans’ brand-new EP, fittingly titled, Life Upside Down. This project serves as a compilation of all the varying emotions and personal experiences the Australian singer/songwriter has had in the past year.
Among the five tracks, there are two that came before this major shift in his life – “Hey Little Mama” and “All Right Here.” So while these songs carry a whole different set of perspectives, they were actually the start of this EP, as Evans explained to Country Now. And somehow, they flow together effortlessly as they all cover his most recent timeline of ups and downs.
These new tunes add an upbeat tempo melody into the mix while also paying tribute to the important messages of gratitude, hopefulness and a bit of clarity.
“’All Right Here’ to me is about the little moments we sometimes take for granted, but we kind of all know really are the big things. And ‘Hey Little Mama’ is about finding a light spot in a dark time, which I think everyone’s probably felt too,” Evans shared.
The “Love Is Real” singer has already gotten the chance to showcase this collection on his own headlining dates as well as his co-headlining Day Drunk Me Tour with Mitchell Tenpenny, and his current run in support of Brett Young’s 5 Tour 3 2 1.
Plus, fans got an inside look at his time on the road traveling around the world, performing, recording new music, and more in his five-part documentary series that was directed by Peter John. Each episode takes viewers backstage and back to Evans’ home as he bears the truth behind his 2022 musical journey.
Morgan Evans recently caught up with Country Now to discuss the makings of his new EP, showcasing his journey in the open and honest docu-series, what the next phase of life looks for him, and more.
The Life Upside Down EP is a collection of songs that comes from some very personal experiences in your life. How does it feel to finally get to share this project with your fans?
It’s exciting. I mean it’s always exciting to put out music, especially these two songs that are coming out tonight. Obviously, ‘Over For You’ and ‘On My Own Again’ have been out for a little while, but these two, I’ve been working on these songs since May last year. So they’ve been reworked a little bit over the last couple of months, but we’ve been playing them live on the road and it feels like it’s time for these ones to be out in the world and I’m really excited about it.
“Hey Little Mama” and “All Right Here” are the two new songs that weren’t released before this EP. Can you talk about how these songs fit in with the rest of the tracks?
Well, they were kind of the start of the project, actually. They were two songs that were both kind of inspired musically, I think, even before the lyrics, they were inspired by just…not to go too far back in time, but I started music so I could be in a band, and then I played in a band for years in Australia. Then when I moved to America, I started using a loop pedal. I’m not sure if you ever saw one of those shows, like the solo show where I play all the sounds. And I loved that. I did that for like five years and then I started playing with the band again like maybe two years ago. So that’s a lot of years just there, but yeah, I think after playing with this band for that long, it actually started to feel like a band and I wanted music that a band would play. So I started to just play around with different grooves and different sounds and along with that comes the feelings. To me, music is more of a feeling than anything else. It’s like, how do you describe that feeling? And those two songs do that both musically and lyrically. And I think that’s why I want to put them on the set list every night and another reason why I’m super excited that they’re coming out today.
How did you land on the title, Life Upside Down?
Historically for me, a body of work has always been titled by a song lyric or a title of one of the songs. But none of the lyrics or titles of the songs represented this group of songs. They do make no sense together other than the fact that they are the songs that came from this time of my life. It just came from a conversation. I remember being like, ‘well, these songs have no place being together. What are we gonna call this thing?’ Like the only reason they’re together is, you know, because they came from a time when my life was upside down. We were like, ‘life upside down,’ okay, we should really sort of pay homage to the ridiculousness of this and we should put a camel on the front.
On social media, you also talked a bit about the story behind getting that shot with the camel and how it ended up being used for the cover. It seemed like a very spontaneous moment in Morocco that was captured in the best way.
Yeah, that’s the thing. I mean, at the time we weren’t expecting…and I think I could say that for the cover out of like all of these songs. We never took one photo with the idea of it being on the cover of anything. They’re just moments that were captured because they were naturally beautiful, or they seemed cool or ridiculous like that one. And I think when we got around to the title of the EP, then the ridiculousness of the photo just matched perfectly and yeah, it had to happen.
This project includes a lot of different emotions, but it’s all very personal. Do you ever find it to be difficult to be that open and vulnerable in your music and on stage?
Maybe difficult is one of the words. It is also like, it can be cathartic, it can also feel like therapeutic, it could feel vulnerable, all those things for sure. And I think maybe the best answer to that question is to just sort of talk about the experience with “Over For You” and the last six months of that song being in the world, or not even, four or five months, whatever it is. But just the way that really personal moment turned into this thing that so many people connect with in a really personal way in their own lives. Every day I wake up, I have multiple direct messages or comments or from people that are saying things that are more than, “Hey, I love that song” or “your show was great.” It’s more like, “Hey, thanks for writing that song. That song says exactly how I felt when I went through this,” or “it helped me through last night” or a day or a time. That stuff means so much to me and I see it online, but I also feel it when I meet people and I feel it for sure on stage. So I think the experience with that song has definitely been an inspiration as a songwriter to try less about everything except for saying exactly what you’re trying to say. That sounds super basic, but understanding it academically is one thing, and then actually experiencing it like the way that I have has been another thing. I think that’s the best way to answer that question.
It has to be a pretty powerful moment when you get to the point in the show where you play “Over For You” or “On My Own Again” and see just how much it connects with everyone in person.
Yeah, it is. And I mean, it’s a changing feeling too. Obviously, when I first started playing it, it felt so real and personal and now it feels, you know, every day it feels less like my life and more like whoever is experiencing whatever they’re experiencing. I think that song sort of just describes, as personal as it felt, it also just describes very generally what at least one person in almost every breakup feels. I didn’t realize that, and I didn’t realize that so many people were breaking up all the time and so many marriages were falling apart all the time…it just is, that’s what’s happening. So if people can go to a show and have a moment like that, that provides any sort of connection, understanding, clarity, escape, all those things, I think, you know, it’s my honor to be able to do that.
So what are you hoping that your listeners will take away from hearing these songs?
There are some ups and there are downs, but I mean there’s definitely like, obviously the heaviness of “Over For You” as we’ve talked about and “On My Own Again” sort of has a similar heaviness but with some light in it as well. And I feel like maybe my natural state is to be optimistic and look for whatever the positive thing is and then I think that’s what the other two songs, “Hey Little Mama” and “All Right Here” are definitely doing. For me, they’re pretty specific things, both of those songs, but they’re, I think, similar to “Over For You,” able to be felt generally for whoever hears them in their own situation, you know? “All Right Here” to me is about the little moments we sometimes take for granted, but we kind of all know really are the big things. And “Hey Little Mama” is about finding a light spot in a dark time, which I think everyone’s probably felt too. Or if you’re in a dark time, it’s sometimes good to know that they’re there at the light spots and that song will hopefully make you look for them. Apart from that, like we were talking about, they just feel really good to play and good to sing along and that’s my hope.
You also recently dropped a five-part docu-series, which let people a little bit more into your life in a new way as you traveled to different countries playing some big shows. What was it like getting to film these experiences and then to go back and watch them?
It was kind of effortless getting to film it, honestly, because it was two of my really close friends that I just took on the road. It wasn’t like we took a film crew on the road or anything like that. It was literally just two guys. The one guy I’ve known for like 10 years who’s coming out on the road with us this weekend, actually an Australian guy, and another guy from Canada. So it just felt like hanging out with my mates. That documentary series was something we’d planned for like a year in advance, cause that tour, I was going back home to headline the biggest country music festival in Australia, which was a big moment personally for me cause my manager started that and I started playing at that festival and his son owns it now, but also career-wise, it’s obviously the biggest show that I had done. Then we were going off to play the biggest arenas in Australia after, so we were always planning to shoot this thing and obviously life took a pretty serious left turn not long before that. So the question was, do we shoot it or do we not shoot it or do we shoot the bits of it? And I was just kind of like, “let’s just shoot what it is.” And that’s kind of what you see.
It was a tough time, but I really like the way that my family, my country, those shows, my crew, I really like the way it’s all captured because as tough a time as it was, it was just a big moment in my life that I was grateful to have at that time…Hopefully people enjoy watching it. I’ve had a lot of people reach out about it too from Australia. Especially like that bit in one of the episodes where I’m standing in the beach, like up north in Australia and all the crickets are ringing out and it’s like, “Oh sh*t. I haven’t heard that sound in years.” Just lots of moments like that that I think are just important grounding life moments too.
There’s a moment in one of the episodes where you talk about searching for the exact mic you used to sing “Over For You” live for the first time to record the song with in the studio. Can you talk more about what went into making the studio recording of that song?
I’ll say too, I forget about that day because it was such a blur, but that was one of my favorite days on tour ever. That was true like…we have to fix these vocals on like three lines or whatever, I can’t remember where exactly what it was, a couple of bits in the chorus, and we need to find that mic. We’re in New Zealand, it’s a Sunday, everything’s closed and so yeah, between soundcheck at the arena, we went to Neil Finn, who is like a childhood hero of mine, Neil Finn’s studio and tracked some vocals. Then went back and played the arena that night and I just remember going, “what is happening? Is this my life right now? This is unreal.” And I think that’s one of those “All Right Here” moments as well where you’re like, “oh, this is like one of those days I’ll remember forever.”
At this point in your life and in your career, as you look sort of forward to what’s next, what are you hoping to accomplish or goals that you have set for yourself now that maybe you didn’t necessarily get to pursue in the past?
I definitely have adjusted my perspective and I’m thinking less and less about like what kind of artist I want to be or what kind of career I want to have, and more about what kind of life that I want to have. I’m definitely adjusting that balance and trying to lean into that in a musical way too, which I feel like these two new songs do that. I feel like I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of people out here that I love working with, love making music with, but also love as people and friends, and just trying to enjoy every second of it. I feel so lucky to get to do what we do, like the stories that I’ve been able to tell you and what you saw in that documentary, and we’re gonna be on the road a bunch in America this year. We’re gonna go do a bunch more international stuff later this year that hasn’t been announced quite yet and I’ve been writing a lot of songs too. So all of the above have me really excited for the next six, 12, however many years more I get to do this.
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.