With Prince's passing on Thursday the press have understandably gone into overdrive into the sheer number of famous and important figures who have passed over this calendar year. Not just in the field of Rock, in the UK at least. Obviously Prince and Bowie stand out in the list as completely irreplaceable figures indicating to some degree that an era has come or is coming to an end. But then again perhaps it never will. Records keep coming out in 2016, sixty years after the start of it all and some very, very good ones too.
We're only coming to the end of April and I can already list fifteen albums that have grabbed my attention so far this year, and reward replaying, this being just the latest. Dressed immaculately in the clothes of absolute classic Country, the debut album of Margo Price, Midwest Farmer's Daughter just out on Jack White's Third Man Records label. The title of the record and its cover are enough to signal its intention's blindingly. Margo knows her stuff. This is pure Loretta, Tammy, Dolly, Bobbie and Emmylou and every song on the record is deeply steeped in their guiding inspiration.
But it's also at the same time her own story. Very much so. Six minute opener Hands of Time, is surely the most important recorded statement she'll ever make, a potted history of her own narrative. A classic Country tale of loss, struggle, woe, but absolutely grained in gritty determination to endure. Margo's a fighter. It's all sung with that utterly distinctive and familiar Nashville lilt which she nails utterly Brilliant, inspirational stuff.
The rest of the record does it proud. A series of battles with errant men, the bottle, the bank manager and the law. Much of it tracing more chapters of her own story, She's only in her early thirties but has already lived the life and this informs her writing and delivery quite beautifully. Some songs strike home more surely than others, the ones most obviously drawn and inspired by her own personal experience are the true pearls.
This is a wonderful record from a true talent. Not least in terms of its lyrics which indicate a rich and wry comic humour and an uncanny ability to shoehorn beautifully crafted lines into her song's overall structure and shape. It's a lesson, if one were needed, that this stuff never really goes away or out of fashion. Go to Margo's Spotify Playlist, for a wonderful set of her own influences, a great set of records in this fine tradition. Or just listen to her record or read her story. It's the real deal. Go girl!