Well, there are country-sounding songs in this magnificent album of Kacey Musgraves called aptly Golden Hour. But, like many artists nowadays, their compunction to strictly follow the tenets of the genres they have been assigned to, are not followed at all and these artists simply do as they please. Sometimes, they bend those genres the way they want – infusing whoever influenced them in making their album - so don’t be surprised if I say some of her songs sounds like pop music. In her interviews for this album, Kacey mentioned her influences for this album to be Sade, Imogen Heap, the Bee Gees, Selena and the band Tame Impala. When I read it, I said “Oh, ok, why am I not surprised?” Anyhow, just like the verdict of the Recording Academy who has given this album the coveted Grammy award for 2019 Album of the Year, I daresay, I agree wholeheartedly with their decision (although I did say in an earlier narrative that I voted for Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer). This is simply, a beautiful album – if that simple adjective can encompass all the beauty and the lightness and the positivity and the sonic trip I took while listening to this gem. I was actually sitting in a café in a normally busy street right smack in the university belt of my home city. Since it was a Sunday morning, traffic was sparse and it took some time for that part of the city to wake up, being it a Sunday and all. As soon as I put my earphones and played this album, it was as if the hairs on my body started to stand like I was electrified! But this was not a rock album or a hard rock album for that matter. I think it was the smooth music (Sade), the harmonious vocals (Bee Gees), the interesting sonic-scape she created (Tame Impala), the youthful bounce of her supposedly country twanged music (Selena), and the intimate songwriting style (Imogen Heap) she has consistently been using since album #1 (this is album #3). If you noticed, I put where I think the influencers she mentioned in her previous interviews have influenced her – in what aspect. At least, that gives me a clearer understanding of her vision for this album.
9 albums, 61 tracks
No matter how many times I listen to this album, I’m always surprised by how little I learn about Kacey Musgraves as a person. For an album that on the surface seems fairly personal, it’s remarkably impersonal. It’s called Pageant Material, a satirical title in that Musgraves clearly emphasizes that she will never be ‘pageant material.’ But while you learn what Musgraves isn’t, you never truly learn what she is. But I think that’s okay. It’s essential to recognize that we hold country musicians who are male and female to very different standards when it comes to sharing their personal lives in their songs. Musicians who happen to be female are more expected to write as if they’re writing in their diary. I wouldn’t say this started with Taylor Swift, but she definitely elevated the presence of this expectation. Their songs have to be about their lives and their struggle. This is also a theme in all kinds of writing, where women are often expected to put a disproportioned amount of their life into their writing compared to men. Why do we not hold men to the same standard? Why do we look at Blake Shelton and say that it’s totally okay for him to sing songs that don’t relate to his life, yet we look at Kacey Musgraves and expect her to bare her soul in every song? Anyways, I just put my own feelings on blast, but that’s a pretty good description of how I feel about this album. It’s confusing, but also makes complete sense. It’s personal, but impersonal. It’s a contradiction in itself, making it a fascinating album to listen to closely and attempt to critically analyze.
When Texas-raised singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves released her debut single in 2013, country music was a man’s man’s man’s world. “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line was the major hit the year before, bringing a wave of bro-country copy-cats along with it. All of country music radio was a cliché: trucks, boots, girls, beer, anything kind of stereotype you can associate with country music had become fully embraces by both the business of country music and its fans. These kind of songs were going No.1, winning awards and being pushed as the representation of the genre to the rest of the music world. This was also the time I began to fall head over heels in love with country music. But I never took to bro-country; my path to country music was led by the Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton and Miranda Lambert and their feminist version of country music. That was MY country music, but everyone else’s country music consisted of songs that portrayed women as nothing more than arm candy. But then came Kacey Musgraves, marching in with her fringe, boots and cacti. In a sea of thinly-veiled sexist songs and bros with cowboy hats and baseball caps emerged Musgraves, a millennial who both wrote about topics people her age could connect to but still sounded like a traditional country artist.
Kacey Musgraves has long been hailed as one of the only young traditionalists in country music, ever since her debut single “Merry Go ‘Round” in 2012. But Golden Hour, her first album in three years, took a little bit of a different turn, steering away from the bluegrass and roots-influenced music of her past. A surprise to many, an inevitable shift for some, but there shouldn’t be an expectation that artists will stay the same their whole career. That’s not embracing tradition, that’s embracing stagnation. Country music has a reputation for being particularly choosey about what and who falls under the sacred label “country music,” so any artist that attempts to push the boundaries a bit is sure to face a wave of backlash. Women in country have it especially bad. Men in country music lean on pop and hip hop sounds all the time, but when a woman does the same thing, there’s more criticism, a result of a hopelessly sexist system. But this is no time nor place to delve deeply into the severely screwed up industry that is the country music business. And luckily for us, Musgraves has never been one to shy away from doing what she wants in the fear of receiving backlash, and this record is no exception.
Personally, I am not a fan of country music. I never have been and I don’t ever foresee myself ever deciding I want to jam out to a country album. However, after Coachella weekend 1, my twitter feed was consumed with the video of Kacey Musgraves getting her California crowd to ‘yee-haw’ and I knew instantly I needed to give her a chance. So here I am. Kacey has been making a big wave in her music and I can’t seem to go on social media without seeing her or hearing about her and her album Golden Hour. Golden Hour is her third album of what she describes as ‘cosmic country.’ Now, I am from the south were we have old country and new country, I have never heard of cosmic country, but it sounds delightful.
Going Against The Grain Of Teen Country Pop Of The Era, Kasey Musgraves’ Debut Album Same Trailer Different Park Is Harbinger Of Talent To Come
The year was 2013 when Same Trailer Different Park, a popular time for artists such as Taylor Swift (her Country Pop album Red came out in 2012), but there is a definite difference to the sound of Kasey Musgraves album that connects it to Country rather than an overly Pop version of it. Running the gamut from soft acoustic and harder Rock edge, there is something for every taste found on Same Trailer Different Park, and what is most charming as I listen is the inventive notes that find purchase out of nowhere, and the overall traditional way in which this artist sings. It’s not the twangiest voice I’ve ever heard, and certainly not high pitched or anything like Dolly Parton of old or new Margo Price, but rather warm and somewhat husky from time to time. I’d say, it is definitely the voice of a girl, but infused with some tomboyishness which ends up really covering all vocal bases at the end of the day. Apparently, she is someone who has been singing and writing since a very early age (performing for the first time at 8 I heard), and it is this mature know how that accompanies each track on the album, elevating it beyond the generic or Pop pandering elements that Country Pop was undergoing at the time – especially with female artists. In fact, it is less like young girl material, and a bit more like the exploratory songwriting of Sheryl Crow – with a similar rockier vocal whine as well. It is too much fun when I get my hands on an album where all the songs sound great – and knowing how creative Musgraves has musically become since, it was exciting to hear how it all started.
Official Music Videos
Static Image Video
- Jun 02, 2019Kacey Musgraves’ Charm Offense Seizes Governors Ball
- May 07, 2019Kacey Musgraves Transformed Into Blonde Barbie At The Met Gala
- Apr 12, 2019Coachella 2019 Live Stream Schedule: Watch Childish Gambino, the 1975, Kacey Musgraves, More
- Apr 08, 2019Kacey Musgraves Was a Treat in a Cotton Candy-Colored Ombré Suit
- Apr 05, 2019Kacey Musgraves Joins Brooks & Dunn for New Version of “Neon Moon”: Listen
- Mar 28, 2019Must Read: Kacey Musgraves Covers the March Issue of 'Glamour,' Bobbi Brown Is Bringing Her Wellness Line to Walmart
- Feb 20, 2019Judah & The Lion – “Pictures” (Feat. Kacey Musgraves)
- Feb 11, 2019Grammys 2019: Kacey Musgraves Wins Album Of The Year
- Mercury Nashville
- MCA Nashville
Kacey Lee Musgraves (born August 21, 1988) is an American singer and songwriter. She has won six Grammy Awards, four Country Music Association Awards and three Academy of Country Music Awards. Musgraves self-released three albums before appearing on the fifth season of the USA Network's singing competition Nashville Star in 2007, where she placed seventh. In 2008, Kacey recorded two singles for Triple Pop in Austin, Texas.
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