After spending six days in Charleston, South Carolina, with a fair share of magic mushrooms, notebooks, guitars and experience that would last for several lifetimes, Margot Price set to work on writing some of the most challenging and rude songs in her career. Together with her husband and co-songwriter Jeremy Ivey, away from the distractions of their home in Nashville, Tennessee, formed her fourth studio album “Strays”, a 10-track treatise on the human condition with stories that cover the entire gamut of substance abuse, abortion rights and female orgasm.
Price says she wanted the album to “feel like a lifetime or a 10-hour hallucination when you remember everything again,” and as the psychedelic organ creeps in on the first track right before the words “I have nothing to prove / I don’t have anything for sale,” it can be assumed that she hit the spot. The opening song “Been To The Mountain” plays well as a warning for the following songs, especially when Price wildly urges “do your best” in the spoken chorus, which sounds not like a threat, but as a loud disclosure of her newly found resilience.
While her latest 2020 album, “This Is How Rumors Begin,” has shifted a bit from Price’s country roots to classic rock territory, “Stryce” travels even deeper, leading with guitar and reducing nasal twang while retaining her soulful American vocals. The best moments in the album demonstrate Price’s ability to detail the dirty and beautiful aspects of human existence, while at the same time describing what hurts, and yet somehow bringing levity to the story. On “Radio,” she is joined by Sharon Van Etten as the couple broadcasts about the industry around them, singing “People are trying to push me around/Change my Face and change my Sound,” but then brings lightness to the chorus when they joke, “The only thing I have is the radio.” In “Light Me Up,” the explicit lullaby about “diving into sex” sounds like it was taken straight from the ’70s, with acoustic guitars playing to the fullest in bridge.
But there are also moments when Price emphasizes more complex things, for example, “Lydia”, where she writes from the point of view of a woman addicted to drugs, pregnant and faced with a difficult decision: to raise a child or not. There is also a funk-loaded “Change Of Heart”, in which the songwriter surrenders to the world around him and decides to let go of deserved anger.
The Grammy Award-winning artist’s latest LP was created not to fit neatly into the award-winning album categories, but in songs such as the heartbreaking “Anytime You Call”, where Price’s vocals and arrangements linger somewhere in the golden mean between country, indie rock and retro pop. you feel like this was never the plan anyway. This is a rare pleasure, bold in sound and stubborn in lyrical terms, which stands out among its analogues. In a world where songs are created to go viral and albums are carefully placed in boxes, we are lucky that Price is a tramp.
- Release date: January 13
- Record label: Loma Vista Recordings