Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Album Review: Margo Price - All American Made

Margo Price
All American Made
****and1/2 out of *****

Last year’s debut Midwest Farmers Daughter was a long time coming and it delivered the country/Americana goods, kick starting Margo Price’s career. It was on multiple 2016 Best of Lists (including ours) and proved she had the talent to write, sing and pick with the best of best from any generation.

Only one year later comes her follow-up and All American Made is even better. Price has broadened her songwriting to ingest modern day heartbreak, tough mental states and (most expressively) on political touch points; this is a masterful country/Americana record.

The opener "Don't Say It" contains a a splash of “Hard to Handle” and is the most barroom rock and roll shit-kicking Price gets, telling off a bad relationship via killer lyrics. These excellent turns of phrase are everywhere on the disk, you could swear you’ve heard them before but nope, these songs are pure Margo and the second track “Weakness” is an instant classic in the country genre.

Speaking of classics, none other than Willie Nelson shows up for a fantastic duet on “Learning to Lose” and while lyrically it may not top others here, just hearing that purely American voice delicately sing with Price is a joy. She has what amounts to a sequel to the last album’s title track with “Heart of America”, the complications of sexism double standard on the road (and in life in general) with “Wild Woman” and expands into traveling spirituality on “Loner” painting broad strokes lyrically in front of swaying music.

Speaking of the music, there are a few stretches away from Prices bread and butter of Midwestern country. “A Little Pain” gets excellently soulful with organ work while “Do Right By Me” has a down home groove propelled by the bass, drums and soul singing backup vocals; both prove when Price branches out she and her band can succeed.

The two tracks that will be discussed the most are “Pay Gap” and the title effort as Price wades into the political arena on both. “Pay Gap” is a delightful flamenco number that has yips and yee-haws whimsically masking the amazingly STILL prevalent topic of the title and succeeds in all directions. Lyrically Price is fierce and delivers her point with gusto, directness, wisdom and conviction.

“All American Made” isn’t as successful as Price dives into presidential politics, sampling speeches, singing about Reagan selling arms to the Iranians and tying it into an aching pain she can’t quite describe. While her heart is in the right place, the overloaded samples and unclear overarching focus (driving rusty pick trucks to California? Closing with an LBJ sample?) can’t live up to her lyrical directness in “Pay Gap”.

After crafting a solid-to-great country album on Midwest Farmers Daughter no one would have blinked twice if Price played it safe, especially after struggling so long to break through. Instead the opposite happened and she put out a gem of a record that broadens her horizons while simultaneously cementing her as a singer/songwriter who needs to be heard regardless of genre (not gender) bias.
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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