In a cookie cutter industry, one artist emerges from a different mold. She might not be in the running for any Miss Congeniality awards in the near future, but she is certainly a frontrunner for Best Talent in the pageant we call country music.
Kacey Musgraves‘ sophomore studio album under Mercury Nashville, Pageant Material, ensures that the Texas native’s career will remain all gravy. An honest and authentic approach to exposing herself to listeners, Kacey’s next award-contending project can be summarized in one lyric off the title track, “I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t.”
Putting all her biscuits in familiar baskets, Kacey relied on a little help from her closest friends — Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark, Luke Laird, Ashley Arrison, Josh Osborne, and Natalie Hemby — in composing the album. The result of which is a thirteen-track offering that continues to distinguish Kacey from the modern day cross-genre blends that fill the radio waves, channeling a traditional country sound while simultaneously incorporating a string-picking, simplistic folk feel. This approach may be unique for a 2015 record, but it is directly on point as far as what fans of the intelligently snarky, charismatic, beauty would expect from their queen.
Opening with “High Time,” Kacey shares a message with fans that they are about to experience an album that is deeply personal, stemming from her life experiences and pulling from her own roots to create a disc of raw perfection. Tracks like “Dime Store Cowgirl” and “This Town” are autobiographical pieces of music that paint the picture of Kacey’s childhood, providing an artistic glimpse into the past that shaped her. On the other hand, cuts like “Family Is Family” and “Good ‘Ol Boys Club” demonstrate Kacey’s undeniably witty and comedic side, utilizing clever lyrics that elicit reactions ranging from snide grins to belly laughs.
Stand out songs on the offering include the contradictorily crafted “Somebody to Love” that embodies the combination of Kacey’s uncanny lyricism and classic tone that has once caught the attention of the Academy and is on point to do so again. On this Pageant Material highlight, Kacey Musgraves is the intellectual, albeit somewhat rebellious, girl next door who isn’t afraid to tap into her vulnerable side to relate to others. Admitting she is one in the same, despite her brightly shining star, “Somebody to Love” recognizes that everyone is beautifully broken in their own ways.
“Cup of Tea” is, likewise, a highlight on the album, in large part due to the lesson within. Employing her special method of relaying a particular statement, Kacey teaches listeners to be themselves and maintain confidence, regardless of the reception from the outside world. As the stunning artist explains:
You can’t be everybody’s cup of tea. Some like the bitter, some the sweet. Nobody’s everybody’s favorite, so you might as well just make it how you please. ‘Cause you can’t be everybody’s cup of tea.
As a whole, Kacey’s sophomore studio release is well within the realm of what fans and the industry would expect, yet takes more risks than its predecessor. Considering the direction of the country music genre and the material that is catapulting up the charts, Kacey’s album may fall short in that department (as she is light years ahead of where radio currently stands), but should be the recipient of critical acclaim and Academy validation.
Watch Kacey Musgraves’ “Biscuits” video below and click on the album artwork to download your copy of Pageant Material.