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Margo Price (Loma Vista/Concord)

The artists’ lot is to lay bare one’s journey, exposing the peaks, valleys, and rarely-straight-and-narrow paths for the world to judge. The measured impact of judgement is where the experience varies from artist to artist. The farther one gets beyond caring what anyone else thinks the freer one can be, and four records plus one memoir in, Margo Price has arrived.

A bridge beyond 2020’s That’s How Rumors Get Started, latest release Strays continues Price’s dive into Rock & Roll with a clear-eyed intention and a little help from psilocybin as well as perennial writing and life partner Jeremy Ivey. “I wanted the album to feel like a lifetime,” Price says, “or a 10-hour hallucination where you remember everything again.”

The everything is exactly that from Price’s battle with alcohol abuse and self-image, to the power of rising from the ashes. The record opens with searing proclamation “Been To The Mountain” and the lines, “I’ve got nothing to prove/I’ve got nothing to sell/I’m not buying what you got/I ain’t ringing no bells…” until she reaches the apex and the inherent freedom within: “Can’t tell me nothing babe, and that’s a fact/I’ve been to the mountain and back, alright.”

The record’s introspective overtones are buoyed by psychedelic musical undertones, and the complete story is fully accessible. Though it’s the only one on the album, second track, the rocker “Light Me Up” is one of a handful of co-writes with Mike Campbell, and it’s followed by the sunny “Radio” with its acceptance of self plus writing and vocal assist from Sharon Van Etten. “People try to push me around,” the women declare, “change my face and change my sound.” Price has often wondered if she shouldn’t fix her broken nose or try to fit her music into a mold. “You get stuck in the same patterns of thinking,” she says now, “the same loops of addiction. But there comes a point where you just have to say, ‘I'm going to be here, I'm going to enjoy it, and I'm not going to put so much stock into checking the boxes for everyone else.’” But she’s beyond that, the song continues: “But I can’t hear them now, I tuned them out,” they sing, “And I turned them way down low.”

Putting the past behind Price is at the center. First single “Change of Heart” lays this out. “I’ve crossed the bridge,” she explains. “I thought I had a lot of things figured out. Back in 2015, 2016, I was like, this is it. But there was still so much that I was working through that I was hiding.” Price has figured out the hidden baggage is not worth it. “It’s too hard to carry around,” Price says, “Being pissed off at everyone all the time… it takes more energy.”

The record closes with the watery “Landfill,” a touchpoint to her Country roots, but the artist’s evolution will continue wherever it leads. “I feel more mature in the way that I write now,” she says. “I’m on more than just a search for large crowds and accolades. I’m trying to find what my soul needs.”

Strays is on heavy rotation across the country at WXRV, Lightning 100, WFUV and KXT, to name a few, and Price hits the road with her band at the end of the month.


Photo by Alysse Gafkjen

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