THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Lest there be any question about Margo Price’s country credentials, her Daddy lost the family farm a minute into the opening track on her 2016 debut album, Midwest
Farmer’s Daughter. Price sold off pretty much everything she had to finance that album’s recording, with little expectation save doing something worthwhile.
Recorded at Sun in Memphis, mixed in Ardent Studios, and released on Jack White’s Third Man label, the album achieved rock snob bingo by default before anyone heard a note. Despite that potential handicap, it engendered critical accolades, tours with Grammy winning country howler Chris Stapleton, and appearances on Saturday Night
Live and Later With Jools Holland.
This follow-up continues where the debut left off. ‘Don’t Say It’ and ‘Weakness’ could easily be mistaken for prime era Loretta Lynn, and the jaunty, Levon Helmquoting ‘A Little Pain’ has shades of ’70s Dolly Parton. ‘Pay Gap’ slips into waltz time on the chorus, emphasising its message of equality, while ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ is a rueful warning about barroom idiots.
Elsewhere, ‘Learning To Lose’ is a beautiful duet with Willie Nelson – a man who could sing your tax bill and leave you calling out for more. The lump-in-the-throat title track, meanwhile, reprises the story of the lost farm, weaving it into a wider narrative that takes in Reagan selling weapons to Iran and the welfare nation, blending Price’s personal journey with that of her country.
The singer has acknowledged Emmylou Harris and Bobbie Gentry as formative influences, as well as the aforementioned Lynn and Parton. This fine record does them all proud.
OUT NOW / PAT CARTY