Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Margo Price "Midwest Farmer's Daughter" Album Review

     The “Chris Stapleton effect” is being felt in Nashville. After the longtime songwriter swept award season and conquered the sales charts, labels seem to be looking for the next big traditional country star. Fortunately, there is a healthy crop of great artists to pick from. Case-in-point is Margo Price. Margo has been around Nashville for over a decade, and even counted Kenny Vaughn and Sturgill Simpson as past members of her band. Now, thanks partially to the timing of current trends, and partially to fantastic writing and singing, Margo finds herself in the catbird’s seat on her way to stardom. Her debut solo album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, is full of classic country and a real treat to listen to.

     At this point, Margo is riding high on critical praise. Many are calling her the next big thing, and it’s not without merit. This is not some young kid on a major label plucked out of high school singing someone else’s songs and playing the demographic game. This is a woman who has paid her dues in the honky-tonks, struggled to make ends meet, battled through loss and depression, and made music her own way. You can hear this honesty in a song like “Desperate And Depressed”, an aptly named lament. “Hurtin’ On The Bottle” takes on the same idea in a louder and rowdier tone. She also narrates the difficulties of a female in Nashville in “This Town Gets Around” and details a few nights in the pokey in “Weekender”. She speaks with the grit and frankness of someone who has been there and done that a few times.

     The album experiments with different sounds and influences, but remains steadfastly country. “Tennessee Song” has some Waylon-esque beats, “About to Find Out” has the sassiness of Loretta Lynn, and “Four Years of Chances” has a bluesy feel. The album was recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, so the blues and classic country sounds should feel right at home. The best writing on the album comes in the lead track “Hands Of Time”. The song has an autobiographical feel and a strings-laden backing track. “Since You Put Me Down” is another solid honky-tonk number, and “World’s Greatest Loser” is a tender love ballad that can only be criticized for being far too short.

     Margo Price certainly has benefited from the current country music atmosphere, but that isn’t to say that she wouldn’t have experienced this success anyway. If country hadn’t taken a traditional turn, would she be on Saturday Night Live or on every critic’s hit list? Who’s to say? What I do know is that the amount of people listening doesn’t seem to affect Margo Price. She seems determined to do it her way, and I have nothing but respect for that. She is Nashville veteran releasing their debut solo album on Jack White’s label. That’s about as unique as it gets. Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is a great listen and perfect example of modern country music with classic influences.

Standout Tracks: “Hands Of Time”, “World’s Greatest Loser”, “Tennessee Song”, “Weekender”, “Desperate And Depressed”, “Since You Put Me Down”, “Hurtin’ On The Bottle”

"Hurtin' On The Bottle"

"Since You Put Me Down"

"Hands Of Time"

"Desperate And Depressed"

"Tennessee Song"

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