Margo Price, “That’s How Rumors Get Started” (Loma Vista)
Price made a rowdy entrance in 2016 with “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” as a honky-tonk rebel. Two albums down the line, she has progressed impressively, growing more ambitious with the thematic scope of 2017’s “All-American Made” and now comfortably working in 1970s rock mode with this bold new album.
Recorded at the same Los Angeles studio where the Beach Boys cut “Pet Sounds,” “Rumors” was produced by Price’s country music iconoclast buddy Sturgill Simpson. The album confidently goes its own way, largely leaving all manner of twang behind as Price settles in to make a top-notch rock record with seasoned studio musicians like bassist Pino Palladino and Tom Petty keyboard player Benmont Tench.
The surfaces are smooth, and there’s tension roiling underneath. “Rumors” is a superbly crafted 10-song set that captures Price working at a high level, ever more confident in her artistry.
Dan Deluca, Philadelphia Inquirer
Chloe x Halle, “Ungodly Hour” (Columbia)
Beyoncé protégés Chloe and Halle Bailey’s follow-up to 2018’s heavily “Lemonade”-indebted “The Kids Are Alright” is a departure to no place in particular — but making a high-profile R&B album in 2020 with no conceptual arc is its own distinction. The sisters are 20 and 22 now, and for once in pop, titles like “Do It” and “Tipsy” come as a natural progression rather than a defiant rebuke of their teenage fame.
Their music has matured beyond YouTube into something that’s fully club-worthy. The tuned percussion of “Baby Girl” and psychedelic guitar molasses of the best-in-show title track make sure of that.
“Wonder What She Thinks of Me” sounds like something Bailey might sing in her upcoming role in the live-action “Little Mermaid” remake. It’s their calling card as ambassadors for a young Black generation with “Hamilton” and Disney soundtracks mixed in among their musical influences.
Dan Weiss, Philadelphia Inquirer
• Kanye West, “Donda”
• Logic,“No Pressure”
• Lori McKenna, “The Balladeer”
• Neon Trees, “I Can Feel You Forgetting Me”
• Ronan Keating, “Twenty Twenty”