One More Broken String
Whether it's a tinge of the Delta blues, the sweet edge of a pure bluegrass note, or the sound of more traditional country, Megan Munroe's voice rings true, resonating with a honey-rich timbre and a hint of steel. Her songs capture emotions like heartache and desperation with a deft touch - and insight - that belie her years. Just 25, Munroe has been writing seriously since high school, but she wrote her first song at the age of 8. "As a child, I wrote plays, songs and Broadway shows. I was the kid who always had her head in the clouds and dirt in her hair," she says with a laugh. For Megan, the writing always came easily. She grew up in a self-described "fairy tale" existence at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in rural Sultan, Washington. "We didn't watch television for years," Megan confides. "My dad was really into getting back to the basics and my brother and I had a lot of freedom to dream." Megan attended a tiny private school in Monroe until third grade, and made the most of her remote home, riding horses bareback, making up stories - and just imagining. "I day-dreamed all the time," Munroe says. "My parents really encouraged me to explore all kinds of things - and I did." Among the things that Megan discovered was her Dad's collection of cassettes and CDs. "I'd listen to Glen Campbell, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Roy Orbison and the Beatles," she says. Eventually, her musical taste would grow to include Pearl Jam, Tori Amos, Bonnie Raitt and Jewel, and you can hear hints of these diverse artists' influences in Munroe's own songs. A gifted pianist and natural guitarist, Megan is still exploring; creating unique lyrics and unusual melodies. The results are compositions that are fresh and un-jaded. With ONE MORE BROKEN STRING, her first nationally-released CD, Munroe presents 12 originals, 11 of which were written with longtime co-writer Brian Oaks. Recorded in Arkansas at Raney and Lake Paradise Studios, the album was produced by Doug Deforest. The project boasts a group of top-notch musicians whose credits include George Strait, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Marty Stuart and Sammy Kershaw, and they provide the perfect backdrop for Megan's expressive voice. The up-tempo "Leaving Memphis," blazes with a ratcheting fiddle, a scorching vocal and a "take your final stand" mentality. The mesmerizing and poignant "Nothing Is Easy" is a stately-paced nod to just how wrong things can go when love doesn't go right, while the touching "Lonely Tonight" (co-produced by Brian Oaks) combines heartbreaking mandolin work with a crushingly-honest look at choices made and the consequences paid. "Good Fight" is all punch; fueled by soaring keyboard riffs and Munroe's dynamic give and take vocal track. The petite brunette likens this album to a chapter in her life. 'I feel like I've grown from my first album (the regionally-released MARRIED TO THE MELODY/2006), and I'm happy with that,' Megan comments. "This album (ONE MORE BROKEN STRING) was one long watershed moment for me," she adds. "It represents a giant step for me musically, and I embrace the evolution. It's a part of my never-ending journey." Megan's toured the Northwest regularly, performing at venues that include the Tractor Tavern, Jazzbones and Seattle Music Museum's EMP Liquid Lounge, and larger settings such as The Spokane Country Fair, Sweetfest and Capital Lakefair Festival. She's shared the bill with Eric Church and now, Megan is taking her place at some of Music City's legendary "songwriter rounds" - and on to the national stage as well. "I used to be scared to death of performing," Munroe admits. "In the past I couldn't even talk before a show. Now," she says, "I thrive on that excitement and anticipation. Still, you never feel as exposed as when it's just you and a guitar up on a stage." Megan knows her stage craft well; at the age of 17 she left Washington with her parents' blessing and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. She spent three years in California, enjoying significant success and appearing in countless commercials, co-starring in WB's Everwood, and appearing in the films Lost on the B side, Mixing Karma and The Standard V.I5. But L.A. wasn't home, and the success wasn't enough to hold her there. "I had this incredible moment in my car one day on the way to a job in Burbank," she recalls. "I had demoed some of my songs and it was the first time I'd ever heard one of my own recordings. I knew then that I wanted to do music more than anything." That "Ah-Ha" moment hit when Megan was just 20 - and that desire, coupled with the need to get some distance from the L.A.-inspired "level of self-involvement," was all she needed to make the break and move back home. "When you're acting," she adds, "It's easy to get wrapped up in what other people think of you, and that's not really who I am. I moved back to Washington, and even though I traveled to California most weekends for acting jobs, my focus had really turned to my songwriting - and singing." For Munroe, that focus has paid off and life, she says, "Is as good as it gets." Two of her songs ("24", "Ghost") have been chosen for an upcoming indie film by Director's Limited, and her song "Hello" was recorded by Alex of the hit MTV reality show, Laguna Beach. Munroe and her husband Stephen moved to Nashville in 2007, and recently bought a home in the historic Belmont district. While admittedly a bit 'intimated' by the enormous pool of talent she found in Music City, Munroe says that she now feels 'right at home' in Tennessee. Megan's certainly hit her stride: she spends her days writing and co-writing; acting and modeling; designing book covers, and is hard at work on her first novel. Munroe dreams of someday playing the Grand Ol' Opry, and her 'dream' duet partners include Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss and Bob Dylan. In her spare time, Megan loves painting, and regularly trains for 5K runs. "That's when I really start to multi-task," laughs the mile-a-minute Munroe. "I get a lot of song ideas when I run. There's a freedom in it that I haven't found in any other sport." Freedom is more than an ideal for Megan - it's an ultimate life goal. "To be able to create full-time, whether it's a song, a painting or a book - that's my passion," she states. "Hopefully, I'm on the path that will lead me there." In the meantime, Munroe is taking life one song at a time.