One listen to Warner Music Nashville artist Morgan Evans and it’s clear why he’s already drawing comparisons to Keith Urban: the stellar guitar work, songwriting that blends elements of rootsy country with arena rock and catchy pop hooks, the easygoing personality and boyish energy he exudes onstage. And, yes, he is Australian.
Just don’t call him a newcomer. Though fresh to the American country scene, Evans was previously signed with Warner Australia, and released two EPs and a full-length album. For the past decade, he’s split his time between Nashville and Australia in pursuit of his career.
“I grew up listening to American music. All the music I created sounded like it came from here,” Evans says. Evans includes Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Garth Brooks among his influences. But Evans was quick to point to a Keith Urban concert in Evans’ hometown of New Castle, Australia as a pivotal moment in his own musical evolution.
“He had just released Golden Road here and he was playing ‘Somebody Like You’ and I was like, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever seen.’ That was the first I’d ever seen all that rock n’ roll stuff and the old country stuff I grew up listening to, all put together. Keith was one of the first guys that did that in a way that just made sense to me, so it made sense to come here.”
Three years ago, Evans made the decision to move to Nashville full-time, after having made the intercontinental round trip nine times in a single year. “I made that flight 18 times, which means I was basically spending about a month on a plane. That made the decision pretty easy.”
Eventually, Warner Australia released Evans to be signed by its American country counterpart, Warner Nashville.
During a preview performance at the MusicRow offices, Evans brought several tracks, including “Everything Changes,” and his debut single, “Kiss Somebody.”
Though the track officially goes to country radio in less than two weeks, the track has already garnered 7.5 million streams on Spotify.
Armed with a guitar and a Loop Station that he dubbed his “American Band,” Evans built a swirl of beats, snaps, and guitar rhythms, instantly recording and playing back layers of vocal harmonies to cradle his own.
The Loop Station also serves as a talking point to invite fans deeper into his musical approach during live shows.
“When I go see a show, and I don’t know who the opening act is, I sometimes feel like they are playing music at me, because I’m trying to talk to someone and I’m yelling. Now, I’m playing to a lot of people who’ve never heard me before so I can introduce myself and make music a conversation.”
“I’ve been writing a lot of love songs lately,” said Evans, who is engaged to Black River Entertainment’s Kelsea Ballerini. The two singer-songwriters met when they were paired to co-host Australia’s CMC Music Awards in March 2016. “We are getting married in a couple of months so [that show] worked out really well for me. Hopefully, for her, too.” he quipped.
With that, he previewed “I Do,” penned with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley. DeStefano has signed on to produce Evans’ upcoming album.
Though soon to be married to another talented songwriter, Evans says he and Ballerini tend to keep their writing separate.
“We were stuck in an airport the other day and we rewrote Sam Hunt’s ‘Body Like A Back Road,’ for skinny girls. We called it ‘Body Like A Side Street.’” He said jokingly. “Most of the time, we try to keep our writing as separate as possible so when we are home, we are home.”
He closed with “Young Again,” is a sing-a-long ready song filled jangly, shimmering fretwork, and seemingly perfectly ready for performance in an Irish pub, and definitely appropriate for America’s fun-loving country crowds. “The American country crowd is a pretty hardcore party crowd,” he summed.
Evans is managed by Fitzgerald Hartley in Nashville, and Rob Potts Entertainment Edge in Australia.
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