Morgan Wallen’s highly anticipated third album “One Thing at a Time” boasts 36 songs with themes of heartbreak, religion and sobriety. It is packed with the melancholic, blues-like melodies principal to Wallen’s discography. Released on March 3, 2023, fans were eager to hear what the Teneessee native had created after many songs on his previous albums gained popularity including “Chasin’ You” and “Sand in my Boots.”
The first track “Born With A Beer in my Hand” is upbeat despite the serious content matter of sobriety and familial relations. Wallen begins by describing both his grandfather and father’s relationships with alcohol. Then he references his own struggles, singing “Everybody says it’s gonna be the death of me / But these days I’m livin’ on the side of alive / Just ’cause I smile through my sobriеty / Don’t mean it ain’t chillin’ in the back of my mind.” It highlights the difficult task of trying to navigate the crossroads between sobriety, familial pressure and the toll it takes on the psyche. The last line of the chorus, “Hell, I was born with a beer in my hand,” seems to be the conclusion Wallen has come to after this long introspective state — he feels as if there’s no other way for him to be.
Taking a turn from the topic of alcohol, the 17th track on the album “Thought You Should Know” is a simple and sweet message directly from Wallen to his mother. Beginning by acknowledging his recent absence in his mother’s life, he knows that it has worried his family. Wallen sings: “I thought you should know / That all those prayers you thought you wasted on me / Must’ve finally made their way on through.” He ends the chorus by repeating the phrase “thought you should know.”
The song almost feels as if it could be a voicemail, where Wallen updates his mother on his life because of his extended absence. Although the phrase “thought you should know” might seem casual at first, it displays tremendous care in the context of this song. It shows Wallen’s regard for his family and his awareness of their concern for him.
The album’s ending track “Dying Man” is a mid-tempo conclusion to Wallen’s mental battle with sobriety. He references past celebrities and their relationships with drugs, and compares their situations to his. In the chorus, Wallen sings: “Codeine, it got Elvis / Whiskey, it got Hank / I always thought somethin’ like that / Might send me on my way.”
This lack of hope doesn’t last long, however, as the latter portion of the chorus quickly demonstrates: “But you took hold of me / Like only a woman can / And gave one good reason to live / To a set-on-dyin’ man.” This solution to Wallen’s struggle echoes the themes of relationships seen in the last 35 songs. It is the ultimate conclusion, where all the themes in the album weave together in a cohesive and positive way.
“One Thing at a Time” is an album to help listeners feel less alone. It is simple and honest, full of melancholy and hope. Each song is musically and lyrically unique while still tying together with the other tracks. It’s an album that, when listened to from start to finish, feels like a story.