Song Review – Margo Price’s “Twinkle Twinkle”
Margo Price will release her latest record called That’s How Rumors Get Started on May 8th after moving on from Jack White’s Third Man Records to Loma Vista, an imprint of Concord Records. Margo released her first taste of new music in mid January with the song “Stone Me” that coincided with an appearance on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Now we’re getting the first proper single from the new Margo Price record called “Twinkle Twinkle.”
Upon hearing the new song, NPR proclaimed in their headline that Margo Price “Pivots from country to rock fuzz,” and later says it’s “a scuzzy rocker wrapped in leopard print; the song struts with distorted glam.” This is probably a fair assessment of “Twinkle Twinkle.” With the new Margo Price record being produced by Sturgill Simpson, the song feels much more Sound & Fury than Country Squire. The new Margo album was recorded in 2017 in Los Angeles, and Sturgill chose to forgo her touring band for a set of studio musicians that include Matt Sweeney on guitar, drummer James Gadson, Pino Palladino on bass, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench.
Tom Petty is said to be who partly inspired the new album, and who it’s dedicated to. But something tells me Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Mike Campbell would not approve of the “fuzz” allowed to permeate the guitar signal on “Twinkle Twinkle” like a purple mold on the top of some enchilada leftovers in the back for the fridge, ultimately becoming the centerpiece of the song as opposed to Margo’s voice, or any message she’s looking to convey.
In a moment when country music is looking for women who can help return some semblance of gender balance to the genre, Margo Price has been a ripe candidate to name right beside the male-dominated hierarchy of Tyler Childers, Jason Isbell, Cody Jinks and previously Sturgill Simpson as an insurgent stars that can challenge the dominance of the mainstream. But with “Twinkle Twinkle,” Margo makes the achingly predictable move towards indie rock like we’ve seen over and over again from the East Nashville crowd.
“Twinkle Twinkle” is not as much a disappointing song as it is a disappointing song from Margo Price. For a 70’s fuzz rock vibe, it’s fine. Artists can do whatever they want, just like Sturgill Simpson has, and that’s what defenders of the song will profess. But many of those defenders are the same people demanding parity from country when it comes to gender, and won’t see the dilemma this song presents, or the disappointment that will be felt by some country fans.
“Twinkle Twinkle” is a song about the allure of stardom that is instilled in us from an early age via Hollywood, and how the pursuit is often beset with challenges and trappings, or as Margo succinctly puts it, “It’s a bitch.” The message of “Twinkle Twinkle” may be a little too much shop talk for musicians to resonate with a large crowd, but it’s not necessarily an asset or a burden to the tune, while the musical approach and production does coincide well with the angsty and frustrated notions embedded in the lyrics.
It’s also important to note this is just one song and we don’t know what the rest of That’s How Rumors Get Started will contain. Let’s wait for the full album before jumping to any final conclusions. But when you combine it with “Stone Me” and all the publicist copy ahead of the new record, it doesn’t appear like we’ll hear much if any steel guitar showcased on Margo’s first few records by Luke Schneider, or fiddle from folks like Kristin Weber and Joshua Hedley that gave Margo that hard country sound.
Comparing it to the recent song from The Dixie Chicks, “Gaslighter,” which was also a non-country song by an important woman project in country—and was accompanied by a dizzying collage-style video as well— at least “Gaslighter” had an acoustic heart, and an infectious chorus. “Twinkle Twinkle,” despite it’s name, just feels a little dull and droning, or “sludgy” perhaps if you’re trying to look on the bright side.
There’s no shame in country fans hoping for something more for the first proper single from a new record from Margo Price, or at least something more country. “Twinkle Twinkle” is not a bad song. But if you’re looking for sludgy 70’s rock, there are plenty of options. There’s only one Margo Price.
5.5 / 10
March 12, 2020 @ 11:20 am
Margo is starting to lost interest for me. I’ll listen to the newest record with the excitement I had with her first record. It’s not that I care if it’s country or not it’s just the songs and production are just not as good in my opinion.
March 12, 2020 @ 11:26 am
Ugh. That song is duller than dishwater, what a disappointment.
March 12, 2020 @ 11:40 am
She doesn’t have a strong enough voice for this kind of arrangement. She’s worn me out with all the victim cards she played.
March 12, 2020 @ 12:06 pm
I saw Margo Price perform on the “From Nashville, With Love” benefit live stream earlier this week, and I caught the second half of a song she was performing, never heard it, and not sure if it was hers or someone else’s, but it was the best performance I saw all night. I think she is one of the best live acts out there in independent country, and she has an astounding voice when she finds the right compositions to showcase it. But her records have always been a little bit of a challenge. Not bad, but a challenge to capture the same live energy, and specifically how she shouts instead of sings to try and replace some of that energy of a live performance.
March 13, 2020 @ 2:53 am
Yup, she and her band really rock live.
March 12, 2020 @ 11:58 am
Just wondering where I can find some of this sludgy ’70s inspired rock. We need a Saving Rock ‘n Roll.com
March 12, 2020 @ 12:09 pm
Check out the catalog of Alive Naturalsound Records. They specialize in sort of that underground, sludgy 70’s Black Keys-inspired sound, and bands that do it best. Some great stuff in that scene. Left Lane Cruiser.
March 13, 2020 @ 4:49 pm
I guess sludgy isn’t really what I was looking for. I’m looking for some Zeppelin or Hendrix or Tom Petty type shit. Margo Price’s new song actually sounds better to me than the artists on that label because her voice isn’t so sludgy. Seems like the best rock made today is covered on your website. Southern rock (Blackberry Smoke, Steel Woods), country-rock (Eric Church, Whiskey Myers), or old shool Rock n’ Roll (Tami Nielson).
By the way, the work you do on this site is priceless.
March 12, 2020 @ 12:28 pm
I like both this song and Stone Me. Sure they aren’t country but are definitely balls to the walls rockers. I’ve always thought Margo is a better live performer than her recorded music indicates. The woman has an astounding voice as Trigger said above. I think this album is going to be a throw back to her Buffalo Clover days. Can’t wait until it’s release date.
March 12, 2020 @ 12:51 pm
Yes, there is a Buffalo Clover vibe to this new tune. And let’s not forget, Sturgill played with Margo during those early days before either blew up.
March 12, 2020 @ 12:31 pm
“Tom Petty is said to be who partly inspired the new album, and who it’s dedicated to. But something tells me Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Mike Campbell would not approve of the “fuzz” allowed to permeate the guitar signal on “Twinkle Twinkle” like a purple mold on the top of some enchilada leftovers in the back for the fridge”
This statement is as much comical as it is ignorant.
March 12, 2020 @ 6:37 pm
Actually it’s completely accurate. Petty always put the song first. The fuzz on the guitar is distracting. It’s way too hyped. We’re losing the story for the sake of special effects.
March 12, 2020 @ 12:52 pm
I don’t really care for the song. The production is not for me. Definitely not country. I agree with that it’s a 70s rock thing. Her voice also seems drowned out by the production; has kind of an echoing sound. Hard pass. She has a few good country songs but I have always had issues with the sound qualify of her music.
March 12, 2020 @ 1:13 pm
Sturgill Simpson is the producer of the mess?
The man is on a mission…ruining as many careers as possible.
March 12, 2020 @ 1:49 pm
For what it is it is not good. This style has been done far, far better. I’d say she is at least 10-15 years late on this train . She doesn’t have the pipes for this kind of music. Hard pass.
March 12, 2020 @ 2:40 pm
As mentioned, people should do whatever they want. Knock yourselves out. But thank god there are also people who truly seem to love making country music, enough to not make this.
March 12, 2020 @ 3:00 pm
Never been a big Margo fan, but thought her music was better than her singing. Not that the music is just as bad I won’t be spending my money.
Who would have thought Jack White was better at putting out country music than Sturgel Simpson.
March 12, 2020 @ 3:43 pm
Yeah, no. Sounds like an eight-year-old singing over Dan Auerbach rejects.
March 12, 2020 @ 3:52 pm
For all the hype they built around her, Margo Price just doesn’t do it for me. The attention devoted to her by the media would be much better spent elsewhere.
March 12, 2020 @ 6:51 pm
March 12, 2020 @ 4:44 pm
Heard most of it yesterday. Not impressed. 🙁
March 12, 2020 @ 5:15 pm
I don’t blame them for hopping out of the genre right now. There’s nothing left for women who sing Actual Country music on Country radio anymore.
Women have been delivering showstopping projects one after the other. The Miranda Lambert double album, the Dolly Parton multimedia blitz of 2019, the I’m With Her & Highwomen supergroup collabs, Tanya Tucker’s late career renaissance, breakout projects from Yola, Ashley and Trixie, the prevalence of women in Ken Burn’s Country Music doc, Kacey Musgraves trandcending genres with her whole Golden Hour album cycle, Reba, Martina & Lee Ann doubling down on traditions, Maren & Carrie marrying Pop & Country, world class women musicians like Molly, Sierra & Rhiannon playing as good as any of the men, Alt. Country matriarchs like Lucinda, Gauthier and Griffin refusing to release a bad album, Brandi Carlile’s multi hyphenate career as a writer, performer, producer, promoter, provacateur and behind the scenes campaigner and glad handler.
It’s not their jobs to save Country music but they’ve been doing the most for an audience of crickets and tumbleweeds. Mainstream Country programmers have made it crystal clear that they’re not budging on their back to back to back to back to back playlists of men. So let’s not dock points when women like Margo, Amanda & the Chicks release brand explanding music to secure their bags.
March 12, 2020 @ 7:08 pm
Damn, just damn. Nailed it with an air hammer.
March 12, 2020 @ 7:21 pm
Nailed it with a hammer, but none of this has to do with Margo Price. Margo Price is not a mainstream artist. Mainstream radio was never going to play Margo Price. Margo Price never pursued country radio. The idea that she’s so pliable and self-centered that she would change the genre of her artistic expression just because she’s pissed off at country radio is not only incorrect, it’s insulting to Margo Price. What, so mainstream rock radio will play her now? There’s barely a format left for rock on the radio. This excuse might work for Kelsea Ballerini going pop, but it’s just a gross misinterpretation of what Margo Price is.
If you love country, you would play it no matter if radio played it or not. Maddie & Tae just had a gold single without country radio’s help. Screw country radio. Worrying about country radio is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Get in a van and go capture your own audience. That’s what Margo Price has been doing for years.
March 12, 2020 @ 7:38 pm
Agree. Complaining about country radio is a bit of a red herring. But sometimes it’s best to let people have their moment of white knight virtue signaling that they live for.
March 12, 2020 @ 11:16 pm
I do think there is an issue with the lack of women on mainstream country radio, though it has been improving lately. But that has nothing to do with Margo Price deciding to cut a song that NPR calls a “pivot to rock” and release it as the lead single from her new record.
March 13, 2020 @ 7:20 am
Beyond obvious, but irrelevant to the brave knight.
March 13, 2020 @ 1:36 pm
“white knight” is the term of the day, huh? lol.
March 15, 2020 @ 8:57 am
March 12, 2020 @ 6:45 pm
I surprised myself at how much I don’t like this song . not country , uninspiring vocals , buried lyric , repetitive ….sounds a bit like an outtake track from a neil young and crazy horse project and for me even the stuff that DOES make it to those projects are outtakes.
sorry margo ….not this time .
March 12, 2020 @ 7:06 pm
She had a few dope jams on her first album but she has been a huge dud since.
Get woke go broke as they say.
Strait Country 81
March 12, 2020 @ 8:36 pm
Why do I get the feeling Miranda will record this and it will become a hit for her?
March 13, 2020 @ 6:07 am
Why do these people go changing their sound completely? Loretta didn’t. Sure, Dolly, Reba., & others dabbled with Pop/ R&B, but this…nah, I’m good.
March 13, 2020 @ 6:19 am
I’m a huge Margo Price fan, especially after seeing her live show and looking forward to the album but I’m starting to think someone needs to take away Sturghill Simpson’s keys to the production studio.
March 13, 2020 @ 6:42 am
tHiS iSn’T cOuNtRy mUsIc. i DoN’t LiKe PeOpLe TrYiNg NeW tHiNgS.
March 13, 2020 @ 1:04 pm
You really like creating these little imaginary arguments in your head don’t you? How come every terribly ignorant comment I come across lately is from you?
March 13, 2020 @ 1:16 pm
i assume its because most people say the same thing over and over verbatim here. say something against the status quo and people are going to notice. it’s trig’s way or the highway around here and his long time dedicated fans eat that up. it really is a little fanclub.
March 13, 2020 @ 1:27 pm
Oh wow look at you going against the imaginary status quo you seem to have dreamt up in your head. If you actually paid attention to what is being posted here you’ll see many long time readers disagree with Trig on many things. But clearly that is something you are incapable of noticing as you’ve already made up your mind about everything and concocted your little fantasy narratives. But I guess you’re right if thoughtful and informed contributions from long time readers , such as myself, are the status quo here you are certainly correct that your ignorance stands out for going against that. High five!
March 13, 2020 @ 1:40 pm
if you wanted to give a thoughtful response to something i said i would love it.
March 13, 2020 @ 6:55 am
“Stone Me” is much better. More Tom Petty-esk.
March 13, 2020 @ 7:03 am
i knew exactly what this echo chamber was going to look like before i even clicked on it.
– people who ‘brag’ that they never liked her
– people complaining about the sound not being country enough
– people complaining about her politics
– some dig at sturgill simpson
March 13, 2020 @ 10:35 am
maybe its cuz you felt those same things before you clicked ??
March 13, 2020 @ 10:51 am
naw, because it’s the same thing that happened isbell and simpson. say something trigger doesn’t like, mention politics, and the chamber for the most part will regurgitate to please.
March 13, 2020 @ 1:09 pm
Man I bet you were super proud of yourself when you posted this and got that little dopamine rush. Give yourself a pat on the back and maybe a glass of warm milk so you can rest easy knowing you illuminated us all with your insights. Job well done!
March 13, 2020 @ 1:33 pm
aww blocky, you don’t have to track down all of my comments. take a deep breath!
March 13, 2020 @ 1:37 pm
Hey! I’m not tracking down anything! You’re bravely fighting against the status quo so your comments stick out like a shining speck of gold in a mountain of shit don’t you remember?
March 13, 2020 @ 7:43 am
What is your source on Sturgill choosing studio musicians over her band? Margo didn’t have a say in that?
March 13, 2020 @ 8:49 am
Margo Price’s record label sent out a press release with the personnel for the album named by name. Now that doesn’t mean there may not be additional personnel on certain songs. We’ll have to hear and see the full record to verify that. But Matt Sweeney on guitar, drummer James Gadson, Pino Palladino on bass, and keyboardist Benmont Tench was the core of the band in the recording studio.
I don’t know if that was Margo Price’s or Sturgill’s decision, or mutual. I don’t see Margo allowing Sturgill to strong arm her on this decision. But this has been Sturgill’s move in the studio in the past, with Tyler Childers and others. It’s the same thing Rick Rubin did with Tom Petty for “Wildflowers.”
March 13, 2020 @ 11:07 am
Those are superb and versatile musicians. Gadson goes all the way back to Bill Withers. Palladino has played with D’Angelo, Mayer, and many others. And so on.
It comes down to Margo’s weak voice and Sturgill’s poor taste. They really have no idea what they are, what to do, however excellent their rolodex of studio cats.
March 13, 2020 @ 10:36 am
Look for Margo to keep playing career roulette with her sound. She was about as country as John Denver. Smart and manipulative girl though, she’ll keep on NPR’s good side and make all the right social justice signals. Do you spell “fake” with one dollar sign or two?
March 13, 2020 @ 11:11 am
Why would the fact she believes in a just society make you assume that it must be fake and manipulative and only driven by monetary concerns? Her families farm was foreclosed on by a bank due to the inability to compete with ‘big-agra’ like so many other farms have been, she had to deal with the sexual improprieties of men like so many woman do when the try to have a career in entertainment fields and she lost one of her children at a young age. I would imagine she hopes that speaking up will propel society forward. Not a damn thing wrong with that.
March 13, 2020 @ 11:21 am
because a lot of people on this site simply view that as complaining and they can only fathom making such a statement for monetary gains. imho.
March 13, 2020 @ 11:13 am
”It comes down to Margo’s weak voice and Sturgill’s poor taste. They really have no idea what they are, what to do, however excellent their rolodex of studio cats. ”
March 13, 2020 @ 2:09 pm
We’ll always have MWFD, Margo. Everything since just hasn’t done it for me. My unsolicited advice: stop looking outward for something to write about, and start looking inward again. That’s where the magic was.
March 13, 2020 @ 2:24 pm
Genres aside I am just ECSTATIC they didn’t drown the vocals in the damn production. The fact that I can hear her and understand what she is singing is not too common this days in the mainstream world. And she is more mainstream then most who featured on here. So kudos to that.
March 13, 2020 @ 5:27 pm
“Stone me” is a great track. Looking forward to the new record. You know for years I’ve been wanting a return to traditional country music. But now we have so many options that fulfill that need. Seems like 90% of the people that comment on this site are content listening to the same Cody Jinks album again and again. And that brand of “hard country” can be great, but Jesus lighten up people. Margo Price doesn’t owe any of us a damn thing, including another version of an album she’s already released.
March 17, 2020 @ 12:16 am
“Twinkle Twinkle” was also Hag’s last hit.