Maren Morris shares why 'Humble Quest' is the title of her tour. She visits Columbus Friday

·4 min read
Maren Morris will perform at Kemba Live on Friday.
Maren Morris will perform at Kemba Live on Friday.

Even those who normally bypass country music started paying attention to Maren Morris in 2018, when her crossover electro-pop hit “The Middle” was seemingly everywhere.

After a couple pop-inflected albums, she has returned firmly to her Nashville roots in her newest album, “Humble Quest,” and the tour that arrives Friday at Kemba Live.

“It's more stripped back than my previous album (“Girl”), which felt more produced and pop-leaning and R&B leaning,” Morris, 32, said, speaking from her home in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was preparing for the tour.

“With this record, it was all live instruments, live vocals. There wasn't a ton of layering of tracks. That just allowed the songwriting to take center stage, and my vocals. It feels like a more relaxed album,” she said.

Morris writes her own songs, usually in collaboration with a small group of fellow songwriters.

The songs that will be at the center of her new tour run the gamut between lively and humorous, like a tribute to “Tall Guys,” (such as her husband, country singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd) and heartfelt, like “Hummingbird,” dedicated to her 2-year-old son.

“The thing I've always carried with my songwriting is this sense of self and sass,” she said. “But I think the lyrical structure of all my songs, at its heart, is country.”

An easygoing approach to the album

Part of the variation came from a change of producers. Morris had worked closely for years with producer busbee, who died in 2019, and with this album, she worked for the first time with Greg Kurstin.

“With him coming from the world of the Foo Fighters and Adele and Paul McCartney, and me being his first country artist to work with and produce, it just allowed for some really beautiful, unique moments that weren't trying too hard. We just let the words speak for themselves. We didn't have to overlayer every single song with all this production. It feels like a really easy listening album. Because it's real music,” she said.

The album's title, “Humble Quest,” popped into her head as she was driving in Nashville early in 2021.

“Then I just sat at my piano in the basement, and thought about what does this mean, how could it go,” she said.

“I think being stuck inside for a year and a half, or however long it was, allowed me the time to finally zero in on who I am without music for a second. When I went into making this record, I wanted to take those lessons with me for the rest of my life. I need to know and remember that I'm not in control, I need to let go and let loose more and not take myself so seriously, just feel more present.

"All of those things were really humbling lessons learned, and I think I need to keep them on my journey. Just keep making mistakes and learn from them, and try to be a better friend and wife and mother and daughter and boss. Those two words really encapsulated the last few years, and so it felt like a great title for this chapter of my life.”

Morris is eager to be back on tour

Like most of the other stops on the tour, this one will be outdoors, rain or shine.

“We started planning this tour, which places to play, last summer,” she said. “That was when going into live spaces felt very unsure. It still feels smarter and safer to be doing the majority of these shows outside. And the album itself just feels like an outdoor record, like it's meant to be played under the stars.”

After more than two years off the road, Morris is excited to be back out there.

“I really missed being with my band and rehearsing and doing all these new songs from the record. Right now, it's so nice to be in this cocoon of rehearsal,” she said. “But I think once it kicks off, and we're playing in front of thousands of people, I'm going to be kind of shell-shocked because it's been so long. I miss that human interaction, being able to hear people sing along and see their faces.”

At a glance

Maren Morris will perform outdoors, rain or shine, at Kemba Live, 405 Neil Ave. at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets: $49.50 (614-461-5483,

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Singer Maren Morris to perform at Columbus' Kemba Live Friday