Kacey Musgraves, you are a beacon of hope in an otherwise lifeless world. While your male counterparts continue to flood country music with laundry list and cliche-laden party anthems, you come out of left field with an inspired single release. During Kacey's opening night of her headlining tour on Thursday (Sept. 19), the songbird announced to the gathering crowd that her next single would be the witty and powerful "Follow Your Arrow," off her critically acclaimed No. 1 album "Same Trailer Different Park."
After "Blowin' Smoke" stalled in the Top 30 at radio (and her first Top 10 entry with "Merry Go Round"), Kacey is certainly in need of a real breakout hit. Co-written with Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, the tune shoots from the belt and dares to challenge the norms. It's catchy and a much needed shock to the system. Perhaps this could finally revive radio?
Without a doubt, "Follow Your Arrow" is a breath of fresh air. Not only is the theme something completely different for the mainstream, it is built around an infectious, memoriable melody and a self-empowerment hook. "You only live once," a mantra that exploded onto pop culture last year, is the core of the song. Every quirky lyric and twist is drapped around the idea of "doing whatever you want" despite what haters have to say. The entire country music listening audience (and every rapid fan base) can certainly relate to this message.
To say the song is a risky choice is an understatement. After Kacey's performance of the song at the Country Radio Seminar earlier this year, many radio PDs and DJs expressed grave concern over playing the song, if it were ever chosen as a single. Many fans might prove too conservative, perhaps leading the song to even be banned on the airwaves. It could happen, but I would hope that we wouldn't be so close minded in 2013. With so much negativity permeating our lives these days, "Follow Your Arrow" defies those notions and offers up a sliver of positivity.
Taking a quick look at the song's arrangement, it is unabashedly country. From the ebb and flow of the guitar licks to the thumping placement of the tambourine, this song is as catchy as they come. Even the whistling adds an extra layer of lightheartedness, elevating the track from serious to fun. It approaches the topics with an air of delicacy without being coy. It's blunt in presentation and doesn't pretend to be self-righteous. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't have the chorus wedged into my brain. It is a perfectly crafted hit-in-the-making with plenty of crossover appeal.
The lyrics alone harken back to something John Prine or Loretta Lynn would have penned in their heyday, leaving nothing to the imagination and taking the listener hostage. As each verse is framed around breaking societal norms, she adds an additional flourish with the "roll up a joint or don't" line. In the end, she just might be a pot smoker after all, and she doesn't care who knows it. "Roll up a joint. I would," she concludes, smirking. At only 24 years old, Kacey has a way with words. She's the traditionalist response to the pop goddess that is Taylor Swift.
Overall Grade: A+++