That’s How Rumors Get Started
A new Margo Price album is cause for celebration. And this one arrives on the back of many changes – new relationship, new producer, new label and then, like many things, it was pushed back a few months due to that pesky pandemic, yo.
Well, it’s here now. And it’s a third lucky roll of the dice for Price. She seemingly arrived fully formed, a bad hangover and a boot-load of wisdom on debut Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and then the systemic hell-raising hillbilly elegy of it all was further unpacked on the fairly swift follow-up, All American Made.
So it’s been a longer wait for That’s How Rumors Get Started, and worth it, because although Price arrived sounding like Loretta and Dolly and Bobby Gentry – both vocally and more importantly as a songwriter – her own voice was always there, informing the stories. And now that’s morphed towards a more mature pop sound, but country is still there in the heart and grit; in the dirt of these stories.
But new producer – and spiritual soulmate (?) Sturgill Simpson – leads her towards sonic reinvention gently; perhaps not quite the abrupt detour his own last record was, though there is some of that sound, if not fury on the Cyndi Lauper-esque Heartless Mind (it could be a She’s So Unusual B-side, could even be a Blue Angel track for that matter). But there’s still country’s heartbreak and cautious canter (What Happened To Our Love?) and when it goes more towards pop it’s still country-adjacent, or classic-rock referencing – think Tom Petty & Heartbreakers (Letting Me Down) and Fleetwood Mac (Hey Child). Which is no such stretch at all really – you can so see and hear and feel Price as a daughter of the Tusk-era FM, and a fan of (at the least) Wildflowers-era Petty.
She should have been writing the songs for the A Star Is Born remake. These are tunes that would have stuck.
Margo Price just owns the space where her songs sit – great songwriting, confident, charming delivery, killer band (Simpson, James Gadson, Benmont Tench) and all of it is worthy, all of it is magnificent. She is constantly moving on and up with every recording and I think her Rumors is her new gold standard. The other two albums are brilliant too, they remain brilliant, great to revisit, crucial to go back to if you’re starting here. But it’s about the journey. And I can already hear glimpses of where she might go next. She’s becoming Emmylou Harris-like in her ability to just sing the absolute piss out of anything. But the writing might be her absolute strength even. She’s got Jim Harris and Denis Johnson in her heart and soul I reckon. And when she needs to she cuts right to the heart of the matter, as on this album’s closer, I’d Die For You.
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