EW copy chief Dan Morrissey is a master storyteller on Disgraceland, an album inspired by his own experience getting sober. While writing it, he envisioned the lyrics as a V-shaped narrative–it starts on a high, hits rock bottom, then works its way back up–and he describes that journey in vivid detail, right down to the price of his beer, with a self-deprecating wit.
The first song, “Put Your Clothes Back On,” comes on strong with a Friday-night-at-the-honky-tonk vibe, as Morrissey sings about watching his girlfriend dance at a strip club: “You’ve been doing this a little too long/Last night I caught you crying to a Kid Rock song.” But by the next track, the country-ska lament “Wine, Women & Wrong,” it’s clear that he’s the one who needs to change. Waking up hungover again, with his wallet, jacket, and phone missing, he sighs, “Feel like I’m living in the middle of a Gary Stewart song/All about wine, women, and wrong.”
The title track finally brings him to a Townes Van Zandt-style reckoning when he realizes that he doesn’t want to drink anymore. (Morrissey actually wrote “30 Days,” which finds him in recovery, while he was in rehab in Tuscon, Ariz., and thinking about the rockabilly music he loved as a kid.)
Although each song on Disgraceland was inspired by a different style of country, Morrissey envisioned the whole thing as a throwback to the ’90s, when artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain were bringing a bigger, more polished sound to the Nashville scene. “As much as I love rootsier, stripped-down country music, I felt like using that unfairly maligned period as a baseline would give the album the theatrical feel it needed,” he explains. And he captures that tone perfectly with the final track, “I’m Sorry,” a power ballad about making amends and rebuilding trust. “I was listening to some great Carrie Underwood weepers at the time,” Morrissey admits. “And I thought, ‘Why not?'”
You can listen to the full album at danmorrissey.bandcamp.com.