Her lucid songs may be hewn from the sad dirt and upsetting dust of her upbringing and difficult younger life – a biopic, perhaps? – but Margo Price sure does deliver them with great fire, no little wit, loads of tenderness and an approach to performing that is just great to be around.
This was a cracking show in front of a boisterous full house – “I knew I’d love Glasgow,” she called out at one stage. Yes, Nashville-based Margo’s days of playing to “nine people and a cardboard cut-out of Kenny Chesney” – as she said in one interview – are long gone thanks to the excellence of her current release, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and, on the evidence of this Celtic Connections’ gig, her ability to be fearless and sincere in her songs while on stage, allied to a tangible desire to entertain.
Tennessee was big and chunky and rocking while Desperate and Depressed was honky tonkin’ fun and games. A song called, Paper Boy tricked us all with a slow, gloomy pedal steel intro that then gave way to an almighty hoedown complete with a big licks, wig-out ending.
Ex-jailbird that she is, she recounted this tale of drink driving in Weekender with unabashed jollity as she belted out: “They took me down to cellblock B / After stripping off my clothes / Put me in a monkey suit / And threw me in the throes.”
Another round of boozy lyrics are delivered in her first single release, Hurtin’ (On The Bottle) when a man in her life had proved to be doin’ her no good: “I’ve been drinkin’ whiskey like it’s water/ But that don’t touch the pain you put on me” which females in the audience greeted with great whoops. We also got covers including Jolene (Dolly Parton) and Me and Bobby McGee (Kris Kristofferson) plus a wander through the admiring crowd.
But amidst all this gratifying, smiling mayhem, she managed deftly to hush the room with Hands Of Time, the opening track on Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, whose opening lines are sheer class: “When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road / I was fifty-seven dollars from being broke” Margo sang, achingly, to remind us that behind the joy and the smiles there had been considerable hardship and heartache – and country music sure thrives on that. It is a quite beautiful song and here’s hoping she can come up with similar gems in the, hopefully, happier and equally productive days ahead.
Support Aaron Lee Tasjan was mesmeric and hugely talented lyrically, on guitar and in his refined stagecraft – and he had terrific songs to share as well.
Memphis Rain and 12 Bar Blues were wonderful, the latter a tribute to drinking establishments and not a musical style. Be great to see him with his band one day but, in the meantime, his current release, Silver Tears will just have to do. An unusual surname, maybe: he deserves to become better known.