Kacey Musgraves took the country world by storm in 2013 with her debut album Same Trailer, Different Park. Fans fell in love with singles like “Merry Go Round,” a painfully accurate portrayal of life in rural towns, and “Follow Your Arrow,” which was much celebrated for embracing liberal values. In light of the success of Same Trailer, Different Park, her sophomore album has been highly anticipated by many–and here’s where I’ll be honest, not by me. I only bought two songs from Kacey’s debut album and considered it to be highly overrated (I have since changed my mind.) But since I first heard the lead single from Kacey’s second album, I have been looking forward to this release, and I was not disappointed.
Pageant Material opens with “High Time,” a lighthearted track about getting back to the simple things in life. It suits Kacey’s voice, and I am glad to hear her higher register. Next is “Dime Store Cowgirl,” which will be the second single from the album. Kacey sings about how even though she left Golden, Texas, she will always be just a “dime store cowgirl.” This will be a great choice for a single, not that radio will do her any favors.
“Late to the Party” is a weak point on the album, and is basically just about Kacey wanting to be seen coming late to a party with her man. The album’s title track is my favorite and is about growing up in the South and not being “pageant material.” Kacey sings: “I ain’t pageant material. I’m always higher than my hair, and 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.” Next is “This Town,” a song about the secrets in small towns that just felt like a worse version of “Merry Go Round.” “Biscuits,” the lead single, advises us to “mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy.” I think this is a great hook, and again, if radio would do her any favors, it would be doing better on the charts.
“Somebody to Love” is a beautiful song about how we are all struggling for acceptance and love. I can’t say anything about this, just listen to it. “In “Miserable,” Kacey complains about people who are only happy miserable. It’s a decent song, but it’s not one that stood out. “Die Fun” is a pop country song that would make a great single–“Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun.” “Family is Family” is (sadly) a picture of everyone’s dysfunctional family.
Next, Kacey protests the “Good Old Boys Club” and says she doesn’t want to be “another gear in a big machine.” Enough said. “Cup of Tea” is a copy of “Follow Your Arrow” but it is just as good. “Fine” is a love song about telling people you’re “fine” when obviously you aren’t. There is a “hidden” track with Willie Nelson to end the album called “Are you Sure.” This was a great choice from Kacey, again enough said.
This album has made me a Kacey Musgraves fan, and I hope radio will actually play her next single. But even if it doesn’t, she obviously doesn’t care, and that’s what I love about her. Oh and one more thing I love: in a world of hip-hop and rap and pop and rock disguised as country, Kacey Musgraves is just country–and Pageant Material is a great country album. I highly recommend it.
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