Midwest Farmers Daughter is the striking debut from Nashville singer songwriter Margo Price. Conjuring up the same aching honesty and fierce defiance as Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette this album blazes a new path from the more sanitised country music that comes out of Nashville. It’s at times heartbreaking and harrowing in equal measure. Recording at the famed Sun Studios in Memphis gives this album an added depth. It seems appropriate that with the anti Nashville corporate sentiment predominant throughout the album that she should find a home with Jack White’s Third Man Records.
Hands of Time is one of the most poignant autobiographical songs you will hear. It details with remarkable candour her early years growing up on a farm that was re-possessed. It also casts an eye on her early days in Nashville where she was used and abused by the industry, before settling down to raise a family only to endure the terrible hardship of losing her son to a heart ailment. Despite all the torment she has lived through, the one thing she truly wants is to buy back the farm for her parents. About To Find Out is a provocative statement perhaps directed at the Nashville establishment, or for those within its confines that are brimming over with confidence. As a songwriter Price has mastered the economy of words and how to gain the most impact from them.
Tennessee Song is a tribute to the simpler aspects of that state, being far removed from the hustle and schemes of Nashville. Living off the land away from the poison of city life it’s all about the traditions of the southern life. Four Years of Chances is a slice of sprightly country funk with a great rumbling bass line that opens the song. It harks back to the themes first explored by the likes of Loretta Lynn, the wife pushed to the brink only to find her strength in her moment of despair. This Town Gets Around is a stinging indictment of the Nashville music scene, where as a young artist it’s clear that Price was taken advantage. It’s a story that is as old as Music Row but it’s refreshing to hear it told like it is.
Hurtin (On the Bottle) harks back to more traditional country fare - the battle with the bottle. World’s Greatest Loser shows Price at her most vulnerable. Her voice is amazing against the backdrop of a lilting acoustic guitar. It’s a short song but it links up with Hands of Time, where she had suffered so much loss there was only the love of her life to hold on too. The album closes on the down and out Desperate and Depressed. It’s a haunting tune that is a chronicle of struggle, it’s emotional sentiment is very visceral.Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is a remarkably mature debut album, the writing is forthright and candid. Price opens up about the challenges she has faced but she meets those challenges with resolve, defiance and a sense of humour.