Hometown: Aledo, Ill.
Current Single: “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”
Influences: Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, Tammy Wynette, Dwight Yoakam, Garth Brooks, Loretta Lynn
In Brief: Like the title of her brand-new album—Midwest Farmer’s Daughter—suggests, Margo grew up in the tiny Midwestern town of Aledo, Ill., which is also the home of ’90s country star and family friend Suzy Bogguss. Before recording her new album, Margo recorded three independently released albums with her band, Buffalo Clover, whose bass player is her husband, Jeremy Ivey. Margo is the first Nashville artist to sign with Third Man Records.
Remember Your Roots
“I think I’ve been different my whole life, even down to my name. Growing up, I always wanted a normal name. I wanted to be a Jackie or a Tracy or something, but I was always a little different and I think it took a while for me to embrace that and appreciate that. It’s a Loretta Lynn quote—she said, ‘You’ve either got to be first, great or different.’ I want to keep the rootsiness of the traditional country sound, but I want to do something different because it kind of is the only way to stand out. I’m not a supermodel-looking-type person anyway, so I have to get it out there with my words and my voice and what I have to say.”
Gotta Have That Funk
“On my new album, we have a couple of things we like to call ‘country songs’ but I kind of bring in elements of soul and blues and that swampy kind of bayou thing and just meld it with traditional country. There’s a lot of stuff that influenced me off this country-funk compilation [Country Funk Vol. II: 1967–1974] that was put together a couple of years ago and it had Dolly Parton on it. It was country, but there was a really heavy beat there. I’ve definitely pulled a lot of heavy influences from there. I don’t want to just say I’m doing traditional country, because it’s already been done, but I like to keep that as a backbone and then add in other elements of genres that I love, like rock ’n’ roll, soul and even that ’60s girl-group kind of stuff.”
Who’s on Third?
“I had been talking to different Americana labels and a couple of major labels that were interested because this whole Americana movement has been coming about. Many of the labels were interested, but nobody was really biting on the album without wanting to change things—the lineup of songs, the instrumentation, whatever. I was at the end of my rope trying to reach out to labels to help me get it out there. And then one night I was hanging out at a bar, and my pedal steel player is friends with some of the folks at Third Man [Records], and he said, ‘You’re not going to believe this. Jack White loves what you’re doing. You’re on Third Man’s radar. You need to send them your album.’ I didn’t really believe him at first because I had sent it out to so many people. I’m obviously a huge fan of the album that Loretta Lynn and Jack did together [Van Lear Rose]. I loved the album when it came out, but most of the time they do singles and 7-inch [vinyl pressings] of people, so I didn’t know they’d be into putting out the whole album, but I sent it in there and everybody loved it as is and didn’t want to change anything about it. It was a love connection right off the bat and I’m so happy to be working with them.”
Hurtin’ So Good
“I wrote ‘Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)’ a few years ago with my husband and Caitlin Rose. We were just over on my porch and had a bottle of whiskey and slowly it just kind of went down. I said, ‘Man, we put a hurtin’ on that bottle,’ and Caitlin, she just has an ear for it, said, ‘We’re writing that song right now.’ It came out in 30 minutes and later I amended some of it because we were a little tipsy when we wrote it. It was just a fun drinking song to write with friends and a good way to blow off some steam.”