Weakness (Third Man)
First complaint: it’s only four songs.
Second complaint: there is no second complaint.
If Weakness tells you nothing else about Margo Price – and there’s surprisingly a lot to glean from just four songs – it would be that her deeply satisfying debut, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,may have come after a decade in the business but it really was only a beginning.
In these songs mostly written with partner/bandmate Jeremy Ivey, Price is playful as often as she is pointed, opening the album declaring that certainty and solidity may be worthy goals but they’re unlikely companions for most of us who are just as likely to “fall off the wagon like a train running off the tracks”.
In that skedaddling title track, which may well have walked right off the set of The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967 in a high neck/floor-skimming dress, Price confesses that sometimes “I’m my only friend and my own worst enemy”. Not through bad intentions mind, but because (in a classic line you can’t believe hadn’t already turned up in a song Wagoner or Dolly Parton performed) “sometimes my weakness is stronger than me”.
Lest you think Price is all about the retro wit and imagined sequins, in the more spread-out Paper Cowboy (the one non-original here), she carefully peels layers of untruths from a ne’er-do-well across six minutes of rolling piano, duelling pedal and electric guitars, fast train rhythm, and grooves that touch on almost Doors-like psychedelia and even space rock.
Somewhere between those two songs in terms of old and new there’s Good Luck (For Ben Eyestone) which, like her voice, is tender without lapsing into sentimentality while a very Motown bassline gives the traditional sounds a bit of a subtle goosing.
And then rising above all comers is the diffused light of Just Like Love, a kind of downbeat addendum to Weakness with Price casting a well dubious eye over our ability to undermine the best moments.
She sings in wide space, the glistening guitar and piquant violin a Greek chorus to her observations, and you feel it under your skin like a mild irritant that can’t be scratched.
It’s a fine song on a fine EP. Hope that second album comes along very soon.