Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Album Review: Margo Price - Perfectly Imperfect At The Ryman

Margo Price 
Perfectly Imperfect At The Ryman
**** out of *****

Captured during Margo Price's three night residency in May 2018, the historic Nashville venue saw a host of guests and a mix of Margot's country/rock/folk/Americana styles, resulting in a show that proves she is a vital voice on the modern scene. 

Perfectly Imperfect At The Ryman is a bandcamp only release to benefit MusicCares Covid Relief Fund and while that is a worthy cause the music contained makes for a must buy wherever the funds are headed. Opening with a reworked waltzing version of her song "A Little Pain" the core band (Price, Jeremy Ivey, Jamie Davis, Micah Hulscher, Luke Schneider, Kevin Black, and Dillon Napier) are joned by the strings of Larissa Maestro - cello Eleonore Denig - violin Kristin Weber - violin, just the first of many guests on this night.

In fact the only drawback to the release is the flow and feeling, instead of running like a full show, it plays as if Price took her finale high point moments from the 3 night stand and loaded them up here. A smart move to capture all of the guests, but one that makes for a disjointed straight through listen as every song feels like the last of the night.

Price discusses writing "Weekender" in the Davidson County jail as harmonica, wah-wah guitar and grooving drums propel it forward before the roadhouse rock of Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Livin Long Like This" complete with Sturgill Simpson on electric guitar. "Wild Women" is a glorious Americana duet with Emma Lou Harris while the Jesus dropped from his record label country folk tune "Revelations" is a lyrical gem.

The Nashville Friends Choir join Price on vocals for two tracks, the distortion and fuzz bass rock of "Worthless Gold" and a pumping cover of "Proud Mary" which rips the Ryman wide open. Very comfortable playing tribute to her heroes, both Merle Haggard's "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" and Willie Nelson's "Whiskey River" get verses aired in the middle of Price's own " Hurtin' (On The Bottle)" which also delivers soaring vocals from Price.

The album closes with a run of three numbers showcasing Price's style perfectly. Her most evocative tune "All American Made" starts things off with a meditative piano ballad discussing the sad state of American affairs before Jack White joins for White's lighthearted ode to Nashville singer/songwriters "Honey, We Can't Afford To Look This Cheap". The record closes with a sweet love song to Price's husband in string laden acoustic fashion from her first album titlted "The World's Greatest Loser", wrapping up Price's successful Ryman stand.   

Price's originals stand toe to toe with any covers played and whether she is going for the rocking gusto or mellowing out, Price is a dynamite performer. Perfectly Imperfect At The Ryman is a rare live album that people who are not fans of the artist can still appreciate as Price and guests work to incorporate a range of styles around great songwriting and singing from Price. 
Support the artist, donate to the cause, buy the album on bandcamp, stream it and peep some video below:


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