Strays II (Loma Vista)
Margo Price, like innumerable musicians before her, moved to Nashville to enter its country music ecosystem: success eventually came, but only after the realisation that its more ruthlessly corporate tendencies were untenable for her (as detailed in a recommended 2022 memoir). The spot she’s ultimately carved out, not easily pigeonholed as mainstream or alternative by country standards, seems to suit Price’s creativity, which is plentiful on the nine-song Strays II.
Its format is curious – pitched as a sort of expansion pack to the initial Strays, released in January 2023, and dropped in three distinct segments. One of these, Mind Travel, references Price’s recent dalliances with magic mushrooms, and if the music isn’t especially astrally projecting as psychedelia goes, it’s typically rich and warm, recalling when country and the counterculture first merged in the late 60s.
Though Strays II’s collaborators are worthy of note – Mike Campbell, longterm Tom Petty sideman and recent Fleetwood Mac stand-in, co-writes the fine Original Sin; Jonathan Wilson and Big Thief’s Buck Meek also make their presence felt – it always feels that Price is the commanding voice, whether rocking out or applying a lighter touch, as on Malibu and Homesick.words NOEL GARDNER