Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
You don't hear much from singers like Margo Price any more. When she's singing of the farm in the leadoff "Hands of Time," she's not singing some type of stultifying, reverse bro country song. Nope, she's talking about losing the family farm, her father having to work second shift in a prison and buying back the farm.
To say that Price is an anomaly would be a profound understatement. Fortunate to have friends in high places (that would be one Jack White, owner of her label), the Illinois native, who now lives in East Nashville, is most closely identified with the sounds of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.
Those are accurate reference points as Price paints a lot of stories in her country songs, some hard core country, honky tonk, while also interspersed with countrypolitan sounds ("Hands of Time").
And the lyrics are not exactly pretty. These are true stories. Mentioning the loss of a child in "Hands of Time," she does time in the Davidson County Jail in "Weekender." Drinking takes hold on the single "Hurtin' (On the Bottle)."
Producer Alex Munoz, who does a superb job, knows to keep it traditional with lots of pedal steel, piano fills and twangy guitar on the 10 songs, 9 of which Price wrote or co-wrote. Price and Munoz mix it up on "Tennessee Song" with drums starting it off with the vocals altered a tad throughout. Acoustic jump starts "Since You Put Me Down," a mid-tempo honky tonker, with lots of bass and fiddle.
And then there's Price's expressive, full-sounding voice where she truly recalls her musical mentors ("About to Find Out" sounds like something straight out of the Lynn playbook). Her vocals build with tension as does the music (check out the bass of husband Jeremy Ivey) on "Four Years of Chances" about a marriage on the brink. Yet, Price is not some doppelganger, but sings from the heart and obviously has the gravitas considering she has lived the stories.
Price may be a rarity in the country music world of today, but she sure makes the music of yesteryear fresh, relevant and needed. This "Midwest Farmer's Daughter" provides a breath of fresh air.