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Price pays off

Paradise Rock Club, Boston, April 25, 2018

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Margo Price was the real deal. She can sing, write and perform traditional country songs, something in short supply these days. She made that clear from the get go with fast-paced "Don't Say It" and twangy vocals.

But Price also moved beyond that at varying points in her 95-minute show, sometimes even kicking out the jams (to the point that her winning vocals didn't always come through so clearly).

Whatever she was playing, though, worked. Somehow Price merged an easy-going style with a sense of urgency at the same time. The songs were well-crafted and easy on the ears (if inclined for that more traditional brand), while not fitting in with what gets played on country radio today. Songs such as "Weakness" and the tender ballad "All American Made" with only Price and her keyboardist on stage underscored that.

There's much sadness in these songs (the brooding "Four Years of Chances"). Yeah, there's a lot of drinking, but it's not of the having a good time variety. More like drowning in one's tears.

Price finished strongly with the tearjerker autobiographical "Hurtin' (On the Bottle)" about an ultra-rough part of her life, seguing into "Whiskey River" before a fast-paced, hard-edged take on Creedence's "Proud Mary."

There's a lot to like about Price from her honest delivery to her own songs to good choices of covers (a nice take on Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker's "Mary Jane's Last Dance") to a snappy band.

Price certainly let the band play out, especially jamming away on the rocking "Cocaine Cowboys" and "Paper Cowboy," the end of the regular set. Price helped out on a second set of drums. This band could rock with the best of them.

Husband Jeremy Ivey jumped on stage for a few songs to blow some welcome harp.

But Price's strength really remains as an honest purveyor of traditional country. While many lament what has become of the genre, people like Price are doing their best to make the old sound fresh and new again, capturing a new legion of fans. For Price, honesty pays off well.

Opener Aaron Lee Tasjan could have been accused of making his look - wearing a brown-and-white print dress and big white sunglasses - more important than his music, but the latter was none too bad.

Tasjan was a comfortable performer and had a bunch of country songs on the more traditional side, including "The Trouble With Drinkin'" and the more bluesy (and cute) "12 Bar Blues."

Tasjan, who later appeared with Price on "Mary Jane," turned in a good opening set that was well-received by the sold-out crowd.