Margo Price (photo courtesy of Shore Fire PR)
Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
Third Man Records
Margo Price has all the requisite qualities to become a major force in country and roots rock. With the release of her solo debut album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, Price’s full arsenal of talents are poised to grab hold and not let go. As a singer, she possesses a pure, down-home voice to go along with her straightforward and honest songwriting. Her music has an inner strength that conquers all inner wounds, insecurities, and personal demons that may come her way.
Although this is her first solo venture, Price has been working just below the radar for several years. Now, her time has finally arrived. An Illinois native who relocated to Nashville, Tennessee with the hope of finding success with her music, Price, 33, worked diverse jobs to get by: waitressing, installing siding, and teaching dance. She married her musical partner, the guitarist Jeremy Ivey, and the two formed a band, Buffalo Clover. Price also fronted another group called Margo Price and the Pricetags.
Tragically, Price and Ivey lost one of their twin sons to a rare heart ailment in 2010. Devastated, Price pushed on. To finance Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, which was recorded at Memphis's Sun Studio, Price sold her wedding ring and the couple parted with some music gear and their car. They put everything they had into the album.
That gamble paid off in a big way with this album. Price sets the stage with “Hands Of Time,” a song which tells her story, tracing her path to the present. She sings about the loss of the family farm back when she was a child and how she was virtually penniless when she left home. Eventually she headed to the city on a quest to “make a little cash” to “buy back the farm.” The autobiographical song continues by describing how she turned to her music to try to make ends meet, but found herself fighting battles with men and alcohol. Eventually, she met her husband and they had twin sons, but she was dealt the ultimate blow when one of her young sons died. Despite all this, Price sings that she is determined to “keep a runnin, fast as I can.”
Price’s battles with heartache and booze come forth on “Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)” and “Since You Put Me Down,” a song peppered with some quirky production touches. A brush with the law and time spent in the county jail is the subject of “Weekender,” but the downbeat subject matter is disguised by an upbeat, peppy melody. “About To Find Out” is a classic bit of vintage Nashville honky tonk from Price in the spirit of Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. This old-time mood is countered by a more contemporary feel on the rocking “Tennessee Song.”
“Four Years Of Chances” is a buoyant rocker; Price puts her foot down on an unappreciative lover. Price’s band gets to show off their rockabilly chops on “This Town Gets Around," tapping into a Phil Spector-like ‘60s girl group rhythm on “How The Mighty Have Fallen.” Price’s scintillating vocals get bolstered by fine performances from her supporting musicians, including Ivey on bass, some acoustic guitar, and harmonica. Price wrote, or co-wrote, mostly with Ivey, all but one of the album’s songs. Her songs, coupled with deft production, merges together to create classic country that sounds like it could come from any decade gone by, yet it's clearly contemporary.
On Midwest Farmer’s Daughter Margo Price displays enormous courage to share her trials and tribulations. Hopefully, she is stronger due to her efforts and experiences. Perhaps her fans can also find solace in her strength too.