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Kacey Musgraves isn't necessarily the spokesperson for modern country music but her debut album, "Same Trailer Different Park," is powerful enough to shift the direction of the genre.
This album captures the untamed spirit of Musgraves and has received positive attention from a diverse audience. Released March 19 on Mercury Records, the 12 tracks showcase the 24-year-old's songs that flip around clichés that aren't worried about being patriotic. Musgraves, with just one song, has ended the conventional country music idiom.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of many country musicians. My country music collection consists of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers. Modern country music just doesn't appeal to me. Somewhere along the way it veered off left of where Jones left his lawn mower running in a liquor store parking lot. I was incredibly happy when Kris Kristofferson told Rolling Stone (in issue 1076) that he put Toby Keith in his place. "Same Trailer Different Park" rights a lot of country music wrongs in my book.
"Silver Lining," introduces Musgraves' southern sweet voice with a blend of mixed metaphors and sarcasm. It's a fun, lighthearted easy going song with a purpose. She wrote it, like every song on the album, with co-writers.
The song is about how good luck only comes to those who work at it. She sings, "If you're gonna fill your bottle with lighting/You're gonna have to stand in the rain," she sings later "If you're ever gonna find a four-leaf clover/You gotta get a little dirt on your hands."
Musgraves has fun with the stereotype of the south and that typical country music subject of trailer parks with "My House." She sings, "If I can't bring you to my house/ I"ll bring my house to you." Although it may be about a motor home, Musgraves celebrates the freedom of the road and pokes fun of the obvious.
She turns the that cliche around with her first hit single, "Merry Go 'Round." It's just about the exact opposite of something you would expect from a girl coming from a tiny town in Texas and who began her career singing at the weekly opry and then graduated to the television program, "Nashville Star," in 2007.
For her introduction to the world of country music, Musgraves certainly isn't pulling any punches. She said about the songwriting process “We started talking about how towns have secrets and how people everywhere are guilty of filling their parent’s expectations, settling, and never leaving their comfort zones.”
She sings on the chorus, "Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay/ Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane/ And Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down." The theme of rebellion against convention in an effort to blaze her own path is a familiar theme with Musgraves on this album.
Musgraves sings "Step Off," with the conviction of someone who is sick of people telling her what to do. It's both about avoiding negative people and how bad karma can destroy progress.
My favorite song on this album is "Follow Your Arrow," which Musgraves said is sonically similar to Glen Campbell. "It's real country, it's real simple but the lyrics are not your typical country song and I'm just all about people doing what they want to do," Musgraves says in a Spotify interview.
It's a fun and upbeat song with a catchy chorus about seizing the moment that just happens to mention homosexuality and drug use. She isn't just trying to raise the ire those who believe in traditional social values. She's trying to make a point. The chorus ends on, "Just follow your arrow where ever it points." Basically - do whatever makes you happy.
The common ground that Musgraves has found with these songs resonates with a larger audience outside of country music. She sings about just wanting to get through her own issues and isn't too preachy about her opinions. Her subjects are dealing with daily struggles. Her background is one set in Golden, Texas, population 600, yet those experiences enable her to unravel complex ideas in simple folksy turns of phrase.
Musgraves puts it best on "Follow Your Arrow,"
"Say what you think/Love who you love/‘Cause you just get so many trips around the sun/Yeah, you only, only live once."
Kacey Musgraves will play at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday, June 8 as part of the Kenny Chesney: No Shoes Nation Tour with Chesney, Eric Church and the Eli Young Band.
Read the High Note with Shaun Smith every Saturday on ShoreNewsToday.com