I got a bad feeling about Maren Morris’s sophomore album as soon as she dropped the title track. “Girl” is a song that tries very hard to sound powerful, but doesn’t actually have much to say.

Unfortunately, the album follows suit. Morris is so eager to prove she’s a different kind of country singer that her natural instincts get lost in contrived profundities and unnecessary pop flairs. While it certainly has bright spots, “Girl” is ultimately a disappointing follow-up to her promising debut. 

“Make Out With Me” is an instructive example. Smack in the middle of the 14-track album, Morris inserts a gimmicky preface that instructs listeners to switch their record over. There’s a recurring echo distorted to sound childlike, a distracting touch on a lush song about making out.

But the lyrics are grounded, and Morris’s delivery is soulful and convincing. With just a little less production—like using the live drum kit from start to finish—it would have been a better song, and truer to the distinct sound she debuted on “Hero.”