This review originally appeared in the July 17th, 2020 issue of the Voice Piece newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Country music has just as rich of a history as any genre, and it’s taken many forms over the years. Unfortunately, the version that hit the mainstream radio over the past couple of decades or so has given it a less than stellar reputation amongst fans of pretty much any other genre. A lot of people now associate Country Music with those who sing that we’ll “put a boot in your ass, because that’s the American way.” It may be true to a certain extent- mostly because the powers that be in the Country Music Industry want it to be that way. For proof of this, look no further than the drama surrounding “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X.
Enter Margo Price. As signee on Jack White’s Third Man Records, more of an indie rock label than anything, she released Midwest Farmer’s Daughter to critical acclaim. Her third LP, That’s How Rumors Get Started, proves it even more- she’s an artist for the kind of country music that not only keeps the spirit of the genre’s roots but also doesn’t actually give a shit about what “kind” of country it is.
Another artist who encapsulates this recent movement is Price’s longtime friend Sturgill Simpson, who provides production on the album, and the two are a perfect musical match. The record has more explosive moments like “Hey Child”- which at some points, gives the record a more rock-and-roll feel than her previous two that had a more acoustic feel on most tracks. The addition of a gospel choir as her backing track really asserts her point on ballads like this and “What Happened To Our Love,” another ballad with a booming end.
Price’s lyrics are as strong as usual, one of the best being “Twinkle Twinkle,” which tells her struggle to become the recording artist she is today. “If it don’t break you/It might just make you rich/You might not get there/And on the way, it’s a bitch” Margo Price has never been one to not talk about the journey she’s gone through just to get a recording deal. She’s never one to not talk about anything, saying on a recent performance on the Grand Ole Opry: “You know, Lady Antebellum has had a platform here. I think it would be really wonderful if y’all invited Anita White — the real Lady A — here to come and sing. You know, country music owes such a great deal of what we have to Black artists and Black music, and there’s just no place for sexism, racism in this music.” She’s unafraid to use her new platform to continue to talk about what she believes in, whether it be her words or her lyrics of songs like “Pay Gap” from her last record, All American Made.
That’s How Rumors Get Started is Margo Price’s best record for sure- just for the growth it demonstrates. Her honesty not only in her personal life, but also in her songwriting makes her a trustworthy musician- you know whatever she does, it’s going to be good. The directness of her lyrics are not just timely- they’re relatable. It doesn’t matter what country music “really” is- it’s that people like Margo Price are making it.