Published Jul 09, 2020"I don't have a sigh to take," sings Margo Price, exhaling raw anguish while stretching those already poignant lyrics out for added effect, on "I'd Die For You." The song is a spellbinding closer to her new 10-track LP That's How Rumors Get Started. Over raw nerve fretting courtesy of her backing band's guitarist Matt Sweeney, the impeccable lyricist lists off the failings of most folks crossing her path. From there, she promises not to live by others, before turning the title into a mantra. Was "I'd Die For You" inspired by her then-yet-to-be-born daughter, who Price was pregnant with while recording the LP last year? If so, the song certainly succeeds as an anthem for parents feeling extra protective of their little loved ones during these troubled times.
Any listeners seeking similar solace while battling substance abuse will take heart in "Stone Me." A masterfully economic wordsmith, Price packs copious impact into the song's quick lines like "sobriety is a hell of a drug." The music, meanwhile, deftly captures the rhythms of a long march to recovery, especially the jolting high-hat and languid piano. Price's well-documented tribulations with booze, grief and depression give her music vivid gravitas as her high voice sears through the track. In the lead-up to the album, Price described her sobriety and self-care while working on the album and bearing her unborn. Those sentiments certainly seem to ring true for producer and fellow rising country hotshot Sturgill Simpson, seeing as he publicly swore off the sauce a few years back. His production is as spare as fans would hope for, refuting fussy effects and polish so that Price's knockout voice, gripping lyricism and crackerjack band have the space they deserve to keep listeners riveted.
The exception to that lean production: midway track "Heartless Mind." However, it succeeds as a sharp curveball of a song. Chalk that up to its high-pitched '70s AM radio-worthy keyboard, not to mention the careening rhythm section (especially bassist Pino Palladino). Price adeptly contrasts the musical chaos with soothing verses, before going toe to toe with the frenzied band by belting out the chorus.
From her visceral chemistry with her collaborators to their razor-sharp take on Americana and — above all — Price's deeply personal lyricism, there are plenty of elements that make That's How Rumors Get Started one of the year's strongest country releases. (Loma Vista)