Talking to Rolling Stone late last year about her next album, the follow up to 2016’s acclaimed “ Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”, Margo Price said “ there are still some very country moments but there will be a lot of other things on the record because that’s what keeps me interested” . And with the surprise release of her four track EP “ Weakness” recently ( again on Jack White’s Third Man Records, and again recorded in Memphis, albeit in a different studio) we were given an insight into the variety we are to expect on the album, which rumour has it may be a double one.
The title track ( one of two Margo co-wrote with her husband Jeremy Ivey, the other being “ Just Like Love” ) is the most akin to the sound we are familiar with from the first album, it’s an upbeat, honky tonk number, which she has been performing live at recent shows, and apparently began life as a poem. A confessional and an apology at the same time, Margo is as honest as ever in the clever lyrics about how she can sometimes be a pain in the backside and there’s nothing she can do about it because “ I can’t hide what I am, guess it’s plain to see sometimes my weakness is stronger than me” .Some fantastic fiddle playing on this one by the way, and throughout the EP in general which once again uses trad country instrumentation including fabulous pedal steel courtesy of Luke Schneider.
The steel is a strong feature on “ Just Like Love” , a slow, haunting track that is pretty different in many ways from any of Margo’s previously released material. Lyrically it’s not as personal as most of her songs, it is a deep, thought provoking number about the world in general, questioning and meditating about what is going on. Apparently she drew on her experiences and observations whilst touring and said in a recent interview with NPR that “ you can only write so many songs about your personal struggle” . This seems to be an indication that we will see Margo turning to inspiration from much further afield in her writing. Sonically its dream like, etherial quality is something different too, it has an echoey sound that fits the lyrics well. “ Why are we here, no one knows, killing and loving and wearing clothes”. Of all the tracks this one has grown on me the most with each listen.
“Paper Cowboy” was written by the guitarist in her old rock and roll band, Matt Gardener, and Margo apparently fell in love with it from the start. Originally written entirely in waltz time, she has retained the 6/8 key signature for the slow tempo opening verse but developed the rest of the song which is now much more uptempo and in 4/4. It is pretty funky too!! With its strong back beat its a real toe tapper and at over six minutes is by far the longest track on the EP, mainly due to its instrumental section……apparently she has been adding this to her live sets of late and you can tell that this is the song that gives each musician a chance to “ strut their stuff” . As the title suggests, It’s the scathing story of a phoney who has been rumbled, who’s “ guns were never loaded anyhow “ . The most light hearted of the four tracks, subject matter wise.
“ Good Luck “ written by Jeremy Ivey completes the EP which, by the way, is available as two 7” vinyls as well as to download. This mid tempo song was actually about a friend they had fallen out with a while back, but since it was written a dear friend of Jeremy and Margo’s passed away suddenly and at a young age and they subsequently dedicated this to him, it’s subtitle being ( for Ben Eyestone). Knowing this, listening to the lyrics it is equally suitable for both occasions, and is a song I can see listeners putting their own personal meaning to. “ Should have known we’d go our separate ways, but I hope the road is treating you ok”.
It would be easy and tempting for some artists to release “ more of the same” when the debut album has been so well received, but on the basis of this EP it seems that Margo is not one to rest on her laurels and it will be interesting to see what else she brings to the table when the album comes out later this year. And of course let’s hope she returns to the UK for a promo tour, she is so good live!!