The first time I heard Margo Price’s voice I fell in love. There was something so exciting about what this gal was doing and the power with which she delivered it. There is a vigorous attitude and a grit in her delivery, but it’s absolutely f*cking gorgeous all the while. She manages to strike a balance in her music that is absolutely flawless. The balance of using the authoritative intensity of her voice when its most impactful and allowing those delicate, breathing moments to shine as well. The balance of going back to the roots of country music and keeping the flame burning with injecting her own story into a narrative, that until recently seemed as though it was on life support. Well Price may very well be the adrenaline shot to the heart to keep the genre pure in its intent, all while remaining relevant in today’s musical landscape. Oh yeah, speaking of heart, she’s got that too…and she has it by the truckload.
(photo by Angelina Castillo for Third Man Records)
The mix of emotion and sound and inspired craft across ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’ is also of note. ‘Hands of Time’ strikes that balance of tactful play between force and the softer parts of Price’s voice. While there are some boot stomping shuffle numbers in “Hurtin on the Bottle” and “This Town Gets Around”. As “This Town” launches in, I am brought back to the first time I heard good country and I get chills. That electric guitar lead in and the swell of the steel, nostalgia sweeps over me and I need to dig deeper to latch onto that feeling just for a little while longer. “Since You Put Me Down” starts off as an acoustic and a tender vocal, that then launches into a full band dance across the creaking floor boards of an old dance hall.
Sonically you have the moans of the steel, country pickin’ licks, and the steady two stepping beat of the rhythm section, but the vibe is all 60s and 70s country with a modern edge forged by the singer-songwriters cutting vocal. This feels old and warm and vintage in its own right, but everything Price sings feels so relevant and “now”. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind and shed a light on the shortcomings of a cutthroat industry that can very easy swallow you up. While there may be deeper meanings buried in the dirt of these songs, it’s a fun record. It makes you move, this is what you want to hear when you are out at a honky-tonk tossing back Lonestars and fried bologna sandwiches. The kind of music that turns people that hate country music into country music lovers and makes people that don’t dance hop on the floor and two step til the sun comes up.
In the end, it really all comes down to attitude and conviction, both of which Price displays in spades across the ten tracks. Margo Price may be a star, but a different kind of star, one with a humble streak, thankful and that will never forget her roots.
The record reads like the best of Nashville nights, coming up in an unforgiving scene, throwing it all in the center of the ring and somehow scratching your way to a glimmer of success. When, that glimmer is shining, and Margo is bright as a goddamn supernova, exploding brilliant across a sea of black. Give this a listen to today folks. NPR has the whole thing streaming in all it’s glory.