Skip to content

Margo Price – All American Made

October 29, 2017

Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter was one of the most exciting debuts in recent years and one of my favorite albums of 2016. We (my wife and daughter) saw her live at First Avenue this year and she is a great live performer too. I first fell for alt-country chanteuses in the late 70s when I discovered Emmylou Harris. Sadly, to hear real country you have to chase after alt-country artists like Margo Price.

This is no sophomore slump. Midwest Farmer’s Daughter was not the work of a rookie – Price was a mature talent in her early thirties with plenty of life and musical experience when she recorded it. So it is not surprising she has released a solid follow up.

This past summer Price released Weakness, a four song EP, and it was excellent. It was configured as a couple of seven inch 45s. I was a bit worried it was going to take a bite out of her eventual full LP, but only the titular cut is on All American Made.

The LP kicks off with “Don’t Say It,” a stinging honky tonk country rock song. Margo tosses off one liners, but the message is clear: don’t mess with this lady.

“Weakness” is a reprise from the Weakness EP. It is a classic country confessional with the key confession being: “sometimes my weakness is stronger than me.”

“A Little Pain” is a good antidote to feeling sorry for yourself when you don’t have real problems: “a little pain never hurt anyone.”

I can’t imagine what a thrill it must have been for Margo to record a duet with the legendary Willie Nelson. “Learning To Lose” features Willie. On this song Margo goes Nashville – not contemporary Nashville, but vintage countrypolitan. I usually don’t like strings, but here they work perfectly. In the midst of it all Willie whips out a nice little guitar solo on Trigger. There are some pretty good lines here including:

“And the only devil I’ve seen is in the mirror

And the only enemy I know is my mind”

“Is winning really learning to lose”

On “Pay Gap” Margo is a feminist – Tammy Wynette style:

“Pay gap, pay gap

Don’t give me that feminist crap

Pay gap, pay gap

They’re ripping my dollars in half”

“Nowhere Fast” is about the treadmill you can’t get off:

“Living in the present trying to forget the past

Yeah, I’m going nowhere fast”

“Cocaine Cowboys” sounds like a rewrite of “Paper Cowboys” from the Weakness EP. “Paper Cowboys” called out a phony and so does “Cocaine Cowboys.” It also has one of my favorite rhymes on the LP: saddle and Seattle.

“Cocaine cowboys, they’re bad in the saddle

But they’re coming from New York, LA and Seattle”

“Wild Women” makes the simple observation that “Wild women don’t worry.” But also the more profound observation: “Looking for an answer but a question is what I need.”

“Heart Of America” is a farmer’s daughter’s lament. Margo still feels the sting of the 80s farm crisis:

“And you can pray to anybody’s Jesus and be a hardworkin’ man

But at the end of the day, if the rain it don’t rain

We just do what we can”

“Do Right By Me” has a gospel feel thanks to the soulful refrain by The McCrary Sisters, who sound like the Staples Singers.

“Loner” is the only song on the LP that is not penned by Margo, but it is penned by her husband Jeremy Ivey. The song asks what is wrong with being a loner? It takes no prisoners with the line:

“You can take your pick, you either came from an ape

Or the dad of a magic man up on a cross”

“All American Made” ends the album on an acoustic Neil Young groove. Margo ponders the politics of our time without getting preachy. Over samples of presidential speeches, Margo wonders about both the goods and the bads that are American made.

With this album Margo Price proves she is the real deal. So many sophomore albums are duds, but she has delivered a worthy rival to her debut. She is as pure country as you can get. As I said in my review of her debut: “With a voice somewhere between Emmylou and Dolly and with the pen of Loretta Lynn, Margo Price storms out of a Memphis studio in a Nashville state of mind.” She continues to work outside the country machine: recording at Sun Records studio in Nashville, releasing on Jack White’s Third Man Records and singing and playing in a vintage county style. Margo Price will be in my “best of” again this year.


From → Music Reviews

One Comment

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Best of 2017 | Axl's Catch Groove

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: