Margo Price is cruising around the west side Nashville in her pickup truck when she answers my call. Her new album, All American Made, was written on the road, from tour buses to snowed-in hotel rooms. It takes the intimate introspection her debut and flips it — reflecting on everything from the wage gap to nuclear war.
"Midwest Farmer's Daughter] was a concept record, so all the songs were about my life and my story, and once I kind explored that, you start to look at the world around you and then pull from there," Price says. "So, I kind describe it as all the songs are like postcards from different towns in America."
Price's sophomore record doesn't just explore new lyrical territory; it's full sonic experimentation too, pulling from folk-rock, gospel and soul in a conscious effort to not get caught up in country conventionalism.
"I didn't want to limit myself to just making a traditional-sounding country record again. I wanted to be able to incorporate different topics, different sounds and instruments. I wanted to keep a country thread weaving throughout it, but I've had a lot love for many different types music for a long time."
That doesn't mean All American Made is lacking in outlaw authenticity. Choruses like "a little pain never hurt anyone" are country to the core, but devoid cliché coming from Price's penetrating voice. She also enlists her new friend and O.G. outlaw Willie Nelson to duet with her on "Learning to Lose," an experience she still can't believe actually happened.
"He went through it probably four or five times and you could tell he really cared about getting everything right and making it feel natural. It was so cool to go back later and then listen to all the different guitar solos he did. It was so hard to pick just one."
The song "Pay Gap" is a lot more fun than you might expect from a tune with a refrain "pay gap, pay gap, ripping my dollars in half." Price explains that she loves "writing something in a major key and singing something very sweetly" even when the lyrics don't quite match up. "It's nice to just play it with this kind blasé attitude, like, I'm just stating the facts and you can hate me for it if you want, but it's just the truth."
The album's eponymous closer is a bold political musing that features presidential speeches crackling away through distant static. Price has been a scathing critic the Trump administration, but the song was actually written while Obama was president — something she thinks would "shock the hell" out people.
"It's been a tumultuous time for the U.S. with everything that's going on here now, so it felt nice to have something to sing that was kind cathartic and can feel very relevant even though it was written a while ago."
Even though All American Made is full thought-provoking commentary, Price does have one superseding takeaway for listeners: "That everyone in America is equal… it's a dream I think people have had for a long time about this place."