With a prescient and plaintive new single called “Lydia,” Margo Price shares her latest preview of Strays.
Out January 13th, the forthcoming album marks the loudest, lushest and most liberating music to date for the Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and published author, but “Lydia” serves as one of the LP’s sobering respites.
Recorded in 2021 and written years before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the somber and string-laden story sees Price abandon traditional song structure in favor of a stream-of-consciousness character study, illustrating the internal strife and self-doubt of a struggling woman who finds herself pregnant and unable to raise a child. Vivid images of methadone clinics, bleeding mascara and used needles fill the seven verses alongside references to gentrification, health insurance issues, and the impending pressure of a life-altering decision.
Watch Margo Price perform a stunning live rendition of the song at Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church, backed by a string quartet of Chauntee Ross, Nicole Neely, Kristin Weber and leader Larissa Maestro, Americana Awards’ 2022 Instrumentalist of The Year.
“I wrote ‘Lydia’ in one sitting in a tiny hotel room after walking around the city of Vancouver one day. I was jet lagged and feeling really depressed, hopeless, but instead of taking a nap, I picked up the guitar and the words just flowed out all in one quick moment. I hit record on my phone to make a demo and sort of blacked out or went into this meditative state, and boom – eight minutes later, I had this song. It’s one of the only songs I’ve ever written that doesn’t have any real melody or even rhyme, but somehow it still works. Songs like that are rare and don’t come often.
It was inspired by a cacophony of things. There was a women’s health clinic and a methadone clinic with a needle exchange right outside of our venue. I was looking into the eyes of the people I passed and thinking about their stories and really being a conduit for pain.
The song feels like a premonition now, with women’s rights being stripped and all the abortion bans happening. When I listen back, I hear what might go through a woman’s mind when she has a difficult decision to make about her body, her choices and her future.”
Produced by Jonathan Wilson (Angel Olsen, Father John Misty), “Lydia” follows the “hard-living swagger” (New York Times) that was put on full display in recent singles and music videos such as “Been To The Mountain” and “Change of Heart,” each of which further showcases the resilient proclamation at the heart of Strays. From navigating her way through loss, lies, failure and substance abuse, Margo Price has learned how to let go of trauma, pain and addiction, and this collection of ten original songs celebrates freedom in its many, feral forms. Penned primarily during six mushroom-powered days that Price spent in South Carolina with her husband and collaborator Jeremy Ivey in summer 2020, and recorded at Jonathan Wilson’s Fivestar Studios in Topanga Canyon, California the following summer, Price tackles self-image, self-worth and other demons that came in the wake of her recent decision to quit drinking. She sings unabashedly about orgasms, love, bodily autonomy and more on songs that feature Sharon Van Etten, Mike Campbell, Lucius and her longtime band of Pricetags.
Since announcing the release of Strays, Margo Price has also published her debut memoir Maybe We’ll Make It to acclaim from Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly and beyond, in addition to performing trailblazing song “The Pill” live for CMT’s Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Celebration of The Life & Music of Loretta Lynn, entering the Triple A radio charts with “Change of Heart,” wrapping the first season of her Sonos Radio podcast Runaway Horses, completing a national fall book tour, and detailing her first full-band, headline tour in nearly five years.