Just over a year after her debut, Margo Price is already back with another full-length project. All American Made tells the story of rural America, a population whose problems reflect the growing power of Wall Street, but is often ignored.
Price shines a light on political issues such as never-ending war, Americanism, Wall Street and the wage gap, yet still makes time to share her personal struggles filling the album with a bright personality that otherwise focuses on bleak subject matter.
The album’s sound takes strong cues from outlaw country influences (even featuring Willie Nelson on a track), and everything from traditional folk to psychedelic elements to gospel can be heard throughout the album. This combination works well to create a full and warm sound, a sound that should be shared with friends on a warm — but not hot — summer evening. It’s a sound that feels familiar like going home to a home-cooked meal and smiling with loved ones after time apart.
“Wild Women” accomplishes this warm sound as well as any track on the record. While providing a pleasant sound, the track actually examines the double standards of sex. Price also takes this moment to look at her own duality, dealing with being a mother and wife as well as a country singer. This balance of personal issues with larger society is where All American Made truly shines.
The political sound of the album comes through strongly on tracks like “Pay Gap.” As the name implies, this tackles the issue of women being paid less than men, and Price makes this a societal as well as personal issue.
The music too embodies the idea of Price’s dollars being ripped in half as the chorus slows down to half-time from the verses. Price drives the point home in the final verse by stating in the eyes of God, we are equal. Only to counter that with, “But in the eyes of rich white men / No more than a maid to be owned like a dog / A second-class citizen,” showing Price’s willingness to be blunt and attack those she feels need to be attacked to bring change.
All American Made isn’t afraid to throw punches, but it also doesn’t shy away from the feeling of uncertainty. “Loner” captures this feeling of confusion in a system that isn’t made for everyone. “And they put you through school / And tell you you’re grown / And put you to work to buy shit you don’t need,” gives a tough view on the system we continue to support without any question. Price then spreads her arms at the end of the track, opening up this uncertainty to everyone, embodying the communal aspects of country music by saying, “even the bums on the street are just dreamers / A face in the crowd no different than you.”
In this bleak system, Price introduces a clear predator. “Heart of America” tells the story of her family’s farm being taken by “big banks.” This track gives a dark depiction of the effects of big business destroying family owned sustainable businesses in small towns. This is a population often overlooked in today’s political landscape, and one that feels disillusioned. Price gives them a stronger voice than the stereotypical depictions of rural communities most comedians find suffice to explain the 2016 election. Price shines through by giving a voice to those who feel they lost theirs.
The closer drives home many of the points of the album, as Price gives a somber depiction of Americanism with presidential speeches in the backdrop. The album closes by posing the question of how the president and executives on Wall Street can sleep at night, knowing they profit on the destruction of others. Then, Price hopes that those on welfare are doing alright, and fades out with Price saying this system of worry and profit is “all American made.”
All American Made is as good a political statement as any released this year. It covers a wide range of political issues, but always make them feel genuine and personal, and that stems from Price’s talent as a songwriter. Even if you aren’t a country fan (you should be), this is an album you should listen to. It sounds more like 1972 than 2017, but that outlaw sound fits today’s political environment perfectly. There are forgettable tracks in the middle of the record, but the tracks that shine through will stick with you long after you put this record down.