Margo Price has been called "reverent and revolutionary" by Rolling Stone and "part of country's long-awaited back-to-basics riposte" by The New York Times, but in Texas, there's another metric for gauging rising star power: Willie Nelson's seal of approval.
Price seems to have reached such heights.
The 34-year-old Nashville-based singer-songwriter will return to D-FW for a sold-out performance at the Kessler Theater on Jan. 26. Don't fret if you didn't snag tickets. Price will play the Texas Music Revolution on Saturday, March 24, in Plano.
Price's connection with Nelson solidified last summer. She toured with Texas' highest son as part of the 10-city Outlaw Music Festival, which kicked off in Dallas on July 2. At the time, she was one of the lesser-known names among a roster of eye-catching critical darlings such as Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell and even Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan in select cities.
In the midst of that tour, Price played Nelson's renowned annual Fourth of July picnic in Austin for the second year in a row before an appearance at his landmark benefit concert, Farm Aid, in Burgettstown, Pa., in September.
Following her set, Price joined Nelson's son Lukas and his band, Promise of the Real, for a growling rendition of "Find Yourself," filling in for international pop superstar Lady Gaga, who provided vocals for the song on the younger Nelson's self-titled 2017 album.
But, Lukas isn't the only Nelson to share the mic with Price. In October, she released her sophomore record, All American Made, on Jack White's Third Man records. The politically charged songwriting features a duet with Willie on "Learning to Lose."
In an interview with The New York Times, the elder Nelson says he had spent several nights listening backstage as Price opened his shows, "and she was just nailing everything, knocking it out."
He calls her request for collaboration a "great compliment." It seems likely Price would say the same of Nelson's willingness to sing along.
Price's Instagram is filled with photo hat-tips to her musical idols -- Nelson, especially, as well as John Prine, Johnny Cash and Tom Petty -- and recurring appreciation for Nelson's cannabis line.
In interviews, she's quick to name-drop legends whose artistry she emulates, namely Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings; and, though her voice is often compared to Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn, Price told Rolling Stone she thinks herself more akin to David Allan Coe.
"I've been to prison, man!" she told the magazine. (By this, she means she spent a weekend in jail after being pulled over for driving under the influence of alcohol following the death of one of her twin sons in 2010.)
There are, however, politically charged lyrics that read with the foreboding intensity and darkly brooding humor of Southern gothic prose. Her sound is bluesy and loud, with intricate arrangements and forceful melodies.
If at first you think you've transported to 1960s Nashville, Price is quick to spin your head with an R&B groove. She's an impure country purist.
She finds herself situated squarely in a moment where fellow industry outsiders like Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and Sturgill Simpson have reached mainstream success -- and even academy accolades in the cases of the first two -- without kowtowing to corporate demands.
But, for all the comparisons one can place on Price, both those she has courted and those she has eschewed, what makes her peculiar both to listeners and, likely, an impeccable ear like Nelson's is that none of them are complete.
Price is impossible to pin down, fully; that's what makes her fascinating to watch.