Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris have been happily married since 2018, but they still remember the woozy push-pull of the early days of their romance.
That uncertainly and yearning is captured perfectly on “Chasing After You,” Hurd’s new duet with Morris, out today.
“It really reminds Ryan and I of the beginning of our relationship,” Morris tells Billboard. “It wasn’t the easiest road for us to come together. We were in separate relationships when we met. We kind of grew a love out of a friendship over many years before we were out of those other relationships and could finally be together after some time. I think it reminds us of falling in love with each other and not being able to really act on it yet.”
Written by Brinley Addington and Jerry Flowers, the sensual ballad — made even more so by the sultry TK McKamy-directed video — has been floating around Music Row for years. Hurd has even performed it in concert as far back as 2017, but it had never found a home on an act’s record.
“It was held by tons of other artists that are much more successful than me. For some reason, it never worked out with the other people who loved it too,” Hurd says. “When you find a song that you realize is a unicorn, very unique and special, and that you realize you can’t write anything better, It was something I always wanted an opportunity to release.”
Hurd had recorded unreleased solo versions of the song a number of times, but in the pandemic, Hurd and Morris saw it in a new light as a duet.
“One upside of the pandemic is if we’re not writing everyday, it’s like, ‘Let’s take a look at this [older] song,’” Morris says. “We recorded our vocals in our basement and polished it up and were like, ‘Why don’t we release this? No one’s doing anything right now.’ That’s how it came to be.”
The timing is perfect: Hurd last released music in 2020 and Morris is working on her third album, the follow up to 2019’s Girl, which won album of the year at the 2019 CMA Awards.
Hurd says stepping into the forefront is taking some getting used to as he and Morris promote the song, which marks an imprint shift for Hurd from RCA Nashville to Arista Nashville.
“I’m not used to doing this much press with Maren. Usually I’m just listening to her doing her interviews,” he says. “Honestly, for me it’s a little weird to be included, because I’ve been kind of in the passenger seat on a rocket ship for the past five years, so it’s special for me to be this forward on a song with her.”
Country music is filled with coed duos, from George Jones and Tammy Wynette to Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Hurd and Morris don’t know if there are more duets coming, but Morris says they’re ready if there are. “We’ve written so many songs together about each other, who’s to say?” she says. “We could put it out tomorrow, probably,” Hurd adds.
As for memorable duets by other artists that they love, the pair picked some decidedly non-traditional, slightly twisted choices: Lynn and Twitty’s “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” and “In Spite of Ourselves,” by John Prine and Iris Dement. “It’s a wacky love song that’s romantic to weirdos like us,” Morris says about the latter.
The pair were calling from Hawaii, where they have been writing for Morris’s next album with producer Greg Kurstin. Though she has no timetable for the set, Morris adds “releasing ‘Chasing After You’ gives me some time to explore new co-writers and new sounds.”
Writing and spending time in Hawaii has proved idyllic inspiration. “It’s really cool because there’s barely any COVID here,’ Hurd says. “It’s been a breath of fresh air, not just personally, but creatively too.”
Morris agrees. “We definitely feel safer here,” she says. “We’ve been tested so many times before, during and after getting here. It really is like a fog that lifted.”
As to how time spent on the Aloha State will affect Morris’s new music, she says it’s too soon to tell — but adds with a laugh, “I mean, there’s no ukulele on these songs.”