Margo Price – That’s How Rumors Get Started
I’m a strong advocate of ignoring the old adage about books and their covers and diving into albums based on their artwork alone. While it’s certainly not a guarantee of finding great music, I can’t deny that I’ve found some of my favourite albums this way. If you were looking to give this method of music discovery a go then the new album from rising country star Margo Price must surely be on your radar. That’s How Rumors Get Started‘s simple and stunning artwork has easily got to be one of the most gorgeous covers of the year. The best covers however aren’t just a stand-alone piece of art, rather they are an extension of the music contained within, and that’s very much the case here. This latest release sees a shift from the more traditional country of Margo’s first two albums to a golden west coast rock vibe reflected by the warm orange glow and white flowers adorning the cover. The ethereal shawl draped over her and the use of the word ‘Rumors’ a clear nod to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.
“Americana” is a broad subgenre, ranging from old school country to heartland rock, with a myriad of different takes in between depending on who you ask. Considering her shift from one extreme of the spectrum to the other I’d say that for the most part Margo seems right at home with Rumors. This latest release feels like a very relaxed and natural artistic path for her to follow as she grows and develops her sound. Channelling the likes of Tom Petty, Bob Seger and the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac, it’s full of lush arrangements, earworm melodies and heart-on-sleeve lyricism. The record starts off strong with the title track’s elegant piano and Margo’s velvet soft vocals, followed up by the light and breezy riffs of energetic rocker ‘Letting Me Down’. The sublime chorus of ‘Stone Me’ is one of the most wonderfully understated hooks I’ve heard in a good while, while ‘Hey Child’ and ‘Stranger of the Highway’ sees Margo take a soulful turn backed with great choral arrangements, with the latter also basking in the golden glow of vintage organ tones.
While the album doesn’t make any major missteps it does feel a little inconsistent in places. What works perfectly well on one track will feel lacking on others. While the album perhaps doesn’t have as much to say as her previous releases, what it does say is done so with earnest. One would have thought that a track entitled ‘What Happened To Our Love?’ would be one of the album’s most heartfelt offerings but instead it’s here where the lyricism most falls flat. The track does feature Margo’s most impassioned vocals in i’s latter half however, soaring and soulful. This kind of delivery is sadly nowhere to be found on the fuzzy blues of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ however, where instead her voice takes the backseat to the guitar in the mix. This track is probably the one that feels the most out of place – and yet, it’s ‘Heartless Mind’ that is the album’s most “out there” offering, and that is an absolute triumph. With opening synths reminiscent of ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance and a squalling guitar solo at its centre it feels like it shouldn’t work, but it really does! It even delivers some of Rumors‘ standout lines like “You needed shelter, that’s what I gave, And summer comfort became a cage” and “How could this ever turn out well? Blind man playing William Tell”.
That’s How Rumors Get Started is an album that throws a bit of everything at the wall and most of it sticks. You can feel this is Margo’s record for drawing from her broader influences, trying something new to really expand and define her sound as an artist. There are a few dead ends, a few ideas that deserve to be explored more deeply, and more of her country origins should be brought back into the equation in future, but it definitely feels like a step in the right direction. She’s still shaping her sound, but that doesn’t stop this record from being a rewarding listen well worth a few spins.