Kacey Musgraves: Pageant Material

July 4, 2016

musgraves1Country Sharp

Listening Post 54. Kacey Musgraves is a traditional country singer driven by a honeyed voice with a Texas twang. She’s also a progressive in a conservative world, penning lyrics about marijuana, acceptance of homosexuality and questioning of religion. She’s won two Grammys and three CMA Awards while defying labels, and on her fifth album she focuses on small town values and foibles, on family, community and individuality. Biscuits (as in mind your own) is a bouncy live-and-let-live classic: “The holiest of holies even slip from time to time,” she observes, “we’ve all got dirty laundry hangin’ on the line” (video 1). The title track—the full meaning is (I Ain’t) Pageant Material—appeals for authenticity over bullshit: “It ain’t that I don’t care about world peace/But I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage,” she sings, adding “I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t” (video 2.)” There’s a folk energy to Somebody to Love, which could serve as a dating-site disclaimer: “We’re all liars, we’re all legends/We’re all tens that want elevens (video 3). The album is packed with songs that combine delightful melodies with incisive lyrics, like the no-place-like-home essence of Dime Store Cowgirl and the allegro be-yourself anthem Cup of Tea. Then there’s Family Is Family, with a wry take on the people we didn’t choose: “They might smoke like chimneys but give you their kidneys.” With a keen eye on the potential and the pomposity of humanity, Musgraves uses her prodigious talent to keep the music real. (Mercury Records/UMG Recordings, Inc.)






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