Margo Price: Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Photo: Angelina Castillo

Margo Price’s country stylings sound like whiskey compared with the watery product often associated with Nashville.

Margo Price

Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Label: Third Man
US Release Date: 2016-03-26

A dead baby, a lost farm, time in jail, alcoholism, divorce, sexual exploitation; the topics of Margo Price’s self-penned, somewhat autobiographical ten songs may sound like downers, but the opposite is true. Price rebels against fate and proclaims her existence with a loud yawp. She curses “the double-crossing back stabbing thief “of her better angel and promises to put her boot in the face of a gal who “wouldn’t know class if it bit you in the ass". Sure, she’s having fun. Revenge is sweet. And I wouldn’t want to get her mad.

Price wears her musical influences on her sleeve: “About to Find Out” echoes Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City”; the ghost of George Jones rings through “Since You Put Me Down”; the spirit of inmate Merle Haggard on “Weekender”; and the gentle tones of Dolly Parton on “World’s Greatest Loser”, etc. She imbibes the best and makes it her own by making things personal. A listener has no way of knowing what is real and what Price invents as she snarls her songs of innocence and experience. It doesn’t matter. Her bold delivery and fresh take on classic tropes show she’s a master of detailing the chaos of life. She’s a double threat who can write ‘em and sing ‘em.

Her voice can be powerful and restrained at the same time to great effect. You have to hear Price belt out lines such as “she said she beat her boyfriend up while high on crack cocaine” to appreciate her ability to be tough and sympathetic simultaneously. She also sings with a serious twang. Price is the first country act and first Nashville act signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records. Despite spending her first two years of life on a family farm in rural Aledo, Illinois, she’s not really a Midwest Farmer’s Daughter although she could probably make one feel alright, like the song (“California Girls”) says.

However, feeling good is not what the album’s about. While Price hails from Nashville these days and sounds like it with her Southern accent, she trashes its musical politics in “This Town Gets Around” with lines like, “Well as the saying goes / It’s not who you know / but it’s who you blow / who will put you in the show." Price reverses the conventional wisdom and labels Nashville the whore and its musicians merely servants.

The album itself was recorded in Memphis at the legendary Sun Studio, and mixed at the town’s Ardent Studios. She and her band cut the songs live to analog tape, which gives the music a vibrant sound. Price made the album first and sent it to White, who issued it untouched. He and his label executives understood the primal quality of the sonics add to the raw energy. Price’s country stylings sound like whiskey compared with the watery product often associated with Nashville, and no doubt the Memphis elements contribute to this result.

“Let’s go back to Tennessee,” Price begins the appropriately named “Tennessee Song”. Nashville, Memphis, and everywhere in between are her home. She’s no Midwestern girl. Like the Beach Boys once observed, she’s one of the Southern girls who will knock you out. That’s a real good thing.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.