Speaking of artists that have leveled up in 2023, Margo Price absolutely killed it with Strays. I've repeatedly said that it seemed like Price realized the world needed a Tom Petty and decided to become one. Strays still has a country sound, but it has more of that timeless classic rock meets alt-rock sound that Petty mastered. (Plus, I believe we're legally required to mention that this album was written on shrooms since most coverage of it focuses on that fact.)
Strays is just a great rock album. "Been to the Mountain" leans into psychedelic rock. "Light Me Up" is a little more straightforward country rock. "Radio" goes a little New Wave and brings in Sharon Van Etten for some vocals. And then there is "Lydia." "Lydia" is this quiet and intense song that is mostly folk but has some indie rock noise moments delivered by strings. And it has Price delivering her vocals in the best speak-singing method since... well... Tom Petty.
This album came out way back in January of 2023, which might have been a little bit of a detriment. I almost feel like it should be higher on my list, but sometimes you can burn yourself out a bit after twelve months of listening. We'll have to see where Strays ends up landing as the years go on.
Songs of note: "Been to the Mountain," "Light Me Up," "Radio," "Lydia"