Name any country music cliché – whiskey, destitution, jail – and Margo Price has got a song to match.
Unusually, the Nashville-based singer is drawing on these lyrical themes from her real life.
Now signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records, she left home “$57 from bein’ broke” and moved to country’s spiritual home where she drank too hard, suffered the death of her new-born son, and decided to earn enough money to buy back the farm her father lost when she was two-years old.
She’s brought these hard bitten life experiences to a faithful country sound that has plenty of echoes of Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, with whom White has previously collaborated. His decision to release her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is therefore easy to understand and has introduced her to an audience who wouldn’t usually listen to the genre.
Prevented from playing guitar due to a hand injury, she instead has to rely on her five-piece backing band, which includes her husband Jeremy Ivey on rhythm guitar, to power the show. Moving from the honky-tonk of ‘About To Find Out’ through to the country blues of ‘Four Years of Chances’ and a couple of well-chosen covers – including an encore of Neil Young’s ‘Old Ways’ – she brings an authentic vocal twang to tracks that in lesser hands would be generic tear stained standards.
She does bring some such numbers to her set – ‘Desperate And Depressed’, for instance, being Parton-lite – but there’s enough honesty and smart lyrics to pull her through.
‘All American Made’ even suggests she could swap autobiography for politics in the future. A gentle satire that calls out the country for “selling weapons to the leaders of Iran,” it’s performed with just Ivey on an acoustic guitar and has the potential to be as explosive as when the Dixie Chicks denounced George W. Bush from a stage in London.
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