William Michael Morgan is a new artist worthy of some note. The 20-year-old has been under development with Warner Music Nashville for a little while, attracting a grassroots fan base around the country for his neo-traditional sound. Now it looks like the label are gearing up to release his debut single, but beyond just having the appeal of a more purist sound than his peers on radio, William has done something very interesting. ‘I Met A Girl’ is in essence a Sam Hunt cover. Yes, you read that correctly. The track first appeared on one of Sam’s acoustic mixtapes that were distributed prior to his first radio release (‘Leave The Night On’) in order to build some buzz, but missed out on a place on Sam’s first studio record ‘Montevallo’. As a result, the Sam Hunt/Shane McAnally/Trevor Rosen (Trevor is a member of Old Dominion) co-write was primed to be cut, already with a significant young audience who would already be familiar with the song.
But fear not, bro-country and pop country detractors. Somehow William has managed to record a version of this song that doesn’t follow the “fresh beatz” vibe of its principal co-writer, and instead channels the exact neo-traditional sound he was going for all along. Beginning with steady acoustic guitar, soft cajon percussion and rich piano, the swirling arrangement provides a lush base for a beautiful but simple melody. That’s not to mention William’s delivery; it’s so understated and full of gentle southern drawl, his deep and rolling vocals adding to the smoothness of this track. Whereas Sam’s version is built from a drum loop and features plenty of spoken parts (or rapping, I suppose), William’s harks back to a far more authentic country style a la George Strait, and he makes sure to sing every line. As a result, his version is far more enjoyable from a musical standpoint (this isn’t really a rhythmic track, which is where Sam’s starts to fall down), and the song is allowed a new lease of life.
The title may be a little misleading as to the content of the lyrics; while they certainly narrate falling in love with a woman, they steer very clear of the clichés that are extremely prominent in the mainstream. And while there is some word-painting, it only serves to add another piece of the puzzle and doesn’t come across as lazy or inauthentic. “I met a girl, she made me smile, she made me wait, she crossed the street, she crossed my heart, she fixed her dress, she bit her lip, she let me up, I met a girl with crazy shoes and baby blues, the way she moves is changing my whole world, I met a girl,” the chorus runs, trickling along at a gentle pace that is vastly different from much of country radio.
Could this be a breakout hit? It’s hard to say. It’s so traditional in comparison to the rest of the mainstream (Mo Pitney excepted), to the point where I would usually say it has little chance of making an indent. But the fact that it’s a Sam Hunt song that many of his fans will be very familiar with, albeit one that has been changed up a fair bit, makes me think that it might just have a chance. For them to hear a new take on a song they love might just convince them that they do like a deeper country sound. At the very least, curiosity will result in decent initial streams. It worked for me.