The release of Margo Price’s debut album ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’ created quite a buzz in the country music industry last year. It was a fantastic, accomplished debut and saw Margo make a huge breakthrough, even if certain sections of the industry might not have given it the credit it deserved. 18 months on and her second album ‘All American Made’ is here.
Margo Price returned to Memphis to record the album, just down the street from where her debut took shape. In fact 30 songs were recorded, and all of the songs from the album as well as from her recent EP ‘Weakness’ (http://bellesandgals.com/2017/08/07/margo-price-weakness-ep-review-by-lesley-hastings/) came from this session.
I was slightly intrigued as to the approach of the new album. Margo Price lives a very different life today to the life she had 18 months ago and I wondered how that would reflect in the new album. But just like in her debut and not unexpectedly, she simply tells it as it is.
The album starts off with the rollicking ‘Don’t Say It’ and ‘Weakness’ carries on in the same upbeat vein. Already you get the feeling that Margo Price has an added confidence, especially in the latter. This shows itself further in ‘A Little Pain’ a personal highlight which reflects the Memphis recording venue with a soulful country vibe.
Not so long-ago Willie Nelson appeared on Kacey Musgraves’ sophomore album and he does so again with Margo – perhaps his way of giving his own personal seal of approval to these leading ladies of the genre. On first listen it was a great surprise to hear Willie’s distinctive vocals kick in after the first verse of this slower ‘working class’ anthem. The song is over six minutes long and has a wonderful unpolished feel which works just perfectly.
‘Pay gap, pay gap, don’t give me that feminism crap’ sums up the straight-talking nature of another standout track unsurprisingly named ‘Pay Gap’, where Margo goes on to say ‘But in the eyes of rich white men, No more than a maid to be owned like a dog, a second-class citizen’.
Other standout tracks include ‘Heart of America’, a commentary on the bank’s influence on community in the US and the personal effect on her own family. ‘Cocaine Cowboys’, a slightly funky, rock number includes great lyrics such as “But they come in from New York, LA, and Seattle, They’re all hat, they don’t rope no cattle”.
The album ends with the title track. Throughout the song you hear sound bites from president’s past – the song name-checks Reagan and even asks if the president (Trump) gets much sleep at night. ‘All American Made’, which touches on both domestic and international politics, has a dreamy quality about it and continues the narrative of ‘Heart of America’ with the final line of the final verse being ‘But I’m dreaming of that highway, baby, that stretches out of sight’. Fittingly, after the sad events of the last few weeks, Tom Petty gets a name-check too, an artist who Price has named as one of her prime influences in the past.
Margo Price has an ability to create a classic country sound, which while giving nods to the past, also shows exactly what country music can become in 2017. It’s gritty. It’s authentic. It’s stunning.