ACL Review: Margo Price

Nashville’s proper inheritor to Loretta Lynn

Last month, Margo Price earned Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, and her Sunday afternoon ACL set encored. Price is a fixture on the East Nashville scene, but behind this year’s solo debut, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, the 33-year-old Illinois native joined the top ranks of the new breed of songwriters taking back country music.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

“Y’all ready to hear some shit-kickin’ country music?” asked Price after opening with Billy Grammer cover “Gotta Travel On.”

Throughout her hourlong set, Price hit all the right touchstones, drawing unabashedly on her traditional influences while still asserting her own clear style and voice. The barrelhouse keys dueling with pedal steel on “About to Find Out” echoed Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” and Price’s take on Lynn’s “Rated X” applied her as the proper inheritor of the pioneering country iconoclast.

Likewise, additional covers were boldly selected but impressively handled, from Billy Joe Shaver’s “The Devil Made Me Do It the First Time” to Doug Sahm’s “Give Back the Key to My Heart.” Price’s own material complemented, “Tennessee Song” burning a Waylon-esque rhythm and “Desperate and Depressed” unloading as a modern working woman’s anthem.

Price let her backing quintet loose on Jerry Reed instrumental “Swarmin’,” but biting Nashville screed “This Town Gets Around” delivered Price at her most determined, fierce, and raucous. Keeping the festival set in high gear, she avoided the popular, poignant, autobiographical ballad “Hands of Time,” closing instead with the crowd singing along to “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle).”

Price arrived as an exceptional songwriter, and left as an energetic, charismatic performer to boot.

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Margo Price, ACL Fest 2016, Loretta Lynn, Billy Joe Shaver, Doug Sahm, Billy Grammer, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings

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