1. Track List (61)

Country’s Most Beloved New Popstar Kacey Musgraves Has Been A Sleeper Agent For Years

camjameson
Written by camjameson
/ 9 mins read

Country music as an entity has experienced an unprecedented amount of critical acclaim in the last decade, with 2018 being home to some of the most successful mainstream releases of all time, delighting countless listeners across the industry regardless of their favoured genres & prior prejudices of Country itself. Of these iconic releases, Kacey Musgraves shook us in spectacular fashion, seemingly coming out of nowhere to produce a near-perfect album of exquisite Traditional Country numbers titled Golden Hour that rekindled the splendor of Psychedelia, progressive thought & analog instrumentation long considered absent from the scene, all whilst promoting feministic ideals that inspired millions in the wake of modern culture’s much-needed #metoo movement, shaking things up in a major way for the first time since Florida Georgia Line popularized contemporary Country Pop all the way back in 2012 – You’d be forgiven for thinking this album was a labour of love that miraculously graced us with its presence considering the vast majority of audiences had never actually heard of Kacey Musgraves before she so brilliantly thrust her charming ways upon us, but the Golden, Texas-born songwriter has actually been making waves in the Country space since she was a child, releasing her first original composition at the tender age of 8 & continuing to hone her craft all throughout adolescence, passionately venturing into the festival-circuit the moment she graduated form high school until she finally found success with her first solo album Same Trailer Different Park in 2013. From the moment this album dropped, she’d already begun showcasing her incredible competence as a musician by delivering empowering female anthems with a southern twang clearly influenced by headstrong women like Dolly Parton & Miranda Lambert, though seeing as the Country machine was still treating younger female artists like Teen Pop idols who had nothing of value to say a la Taylor Swift & Miley Cyrus, her innate talents were continuously overlooked & modified to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator of audiences, unfortunately rendering her nothing more than a basic artist with a cult following. Thankfully, this all changed when she dropped her second & arguably most divisive album Pageant Material, turning the southern-belle Popstar archetype on its head by satirizing Country music itself & pushing a far more progressive feministic agenda in each quirky number, separating herself from the pack by showing she was not only a phenomenal performer but a force of nature to be reckoned with who was unafraid to challenge the status quo, setting the stage for her follow-up album to absolutely mop the floor with melodic creativity the likes of which no one was prepared for.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

My initial introduction to Kacey Musgraves was actually a happy accident which occurred in the winter of 2017 before Golden Hour had even begun its marketing, one of the rare instances of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm successfully directing me towards an artist I’d had no previous knowledge of that would capture my attention beyond belief – As a Content Strategist for the very VIBBIDI you’re all enjoying today, I started my employment here sifting through more than 800 songs a day to curate the best possible mix of both popular & undiscovered artists for a given genre in the interest of enriching our Users’ sonic existence, an assignment that singlehandedly broadened my scope of the industry at large & made me appreciate Country music for the incredibly rich market it is. One day, I stumbled upon a magnificent number called “Biscuits” that lit up the pleasure-centers of my brain in radiant fashion, presenting a quirky little number that was self-aware & comedic in fashion, softening the impact of an otherwise overwhelmingly hokey Country tune; Musgraves was headstrong & confident, using occasionally-crass language to break free of your stereotypical girly-girl persona with a lyrical narrative that asked listeners to stop being such judgmental pricks, lackadaisically singing about minding your own business to achieve enlightenment with phrases like ‘smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies” that openly promoted marijuana consumption & ‘pissing in my yard ain’t gonna make your any greener’ that encouraged you to stop letting others’ successes in life dictate your own sense of self-worth, all the while keeping a jolly smile on her face & a pep in her step that soothed your soul – In a sense, I was lovestruck, finding her alternative personality & flirtatious pomp to be instantly gratifying in every regard, a welcome departure from the generic ‘he broke my heart & I’m so lonely now’ nonsense most female Country artists had been contractually-obligated to sing about in their music, showing me a whole new side of Country I didn’t even know I’d needed so strongly. While I’m certainly a sucker for soothing feminine vocals & cheery Folk-like aesthetics, this was clearly something fresh & unique I just had to learn more about, motivating me to devour the rest of Pageant Material for the following months until Golden Hour upped the ante in addition to recommending her to all of my friends when they’d ask for a worthwhile entryway into Country music.

A Familiar Voice From A Long-Lost Era

Kacey Musgraves might have won my heart via her radiant charm & dreamy vocal prowess on the aforementioned number, but her greatness can be much more accurately attributed to how impressively knowledgeable she is of her chosen genre, employing anachronistic writing techniques with such efficacy that you’d easily mistake many of her arrangements for well-preserved recordings of Country music past, most notably the Folk-inspired drifter tunes of the seventies & eighties; From the frenetically adventurous spirit of plucky Cowgirl numbers like “Family Is Family” that bounces along gaily the signature spoon-clicking rhythm of Johnny Cash’s vintage Gospel sound to the melancholic crooning of “Good Ol’ Boys Club” that makes you want to drown your sorrows in a bottle of whiskey down at your local saloon, she pleasantly captures the very essence of hoedown-centric Country sensibilities from the genre’s pre-Brooks & Dunn era, aligning herself with the angelic female icons she so-clearly idolizes – Perhaps my favourite iteration of this time-displaced aesthetic is Pageant Material’s introductory track “High Time,” a somber ballad of phenomenal nature that bobs back & forth in the same satisfying manner as Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” comprised of tender acoustic guitars playing a fairly-rudimentary walking chord progression, understated percussion lines that exist for no other reason than to hold the most subtle of beats down & wispy vocalizations that tell a captivating story of returning to one’s roots through beautifully airy feminine melodies, literally rocking the listener into a state of serenity with each passing minute. What’s particularly old-school about this song is its usage of symphonic instrumentation as an atmospheric enhancer, soaring string accompaniment fleshing out the overall scale of this emotional number in a distinctly-eighties way which once defined Country music up until around 1993 when this sort of composition fell out of fashion, only existing today in Barrio-centric Regional Mexican music & Japanese Pop ballads thanks to these cultures’ continued operation of older all-in-one Casio & Roland electric keyboards – I’m admittedly getting up there in years with my 30th birthday looming just around the corner, so maybe I’m just starting to get nostalgic for the sonic profiles which surrounded me in adolescence, but Kacey Musgraves’ incredible ability to make such vintage soundscapes feel exciting to modern audiences is an act of artistic genius seldom few have accomplished in the last year or so’s ever-changing Country landscape, earning her every ounce of respect I have as both a musician & a consumer of good vibes.

Undeniable Talent That Went Unnoticed For Too Long

As easy as it may be for me to recognize Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material for the work of art it is, it doesn’t changed the fact that this album has gone all this time criminally-underrated in contemporary circles, rendered a surprise gem of songwriting excellence you’d likely only discover after finding yourself hungry for more in the wake of Golden Hour. I’m undoubtedly an outlier in these sort of scenarios, as I find immense joy in exploring the backlogs of all my favourite artists to research exactly how their sound evolved & matured over time, but there’s something inherently detrimental about modern audiences’ inability to turn back the clock & appreciate older music that influenced what they love today, concerned with nothing more than the most current mainstream trends that’ll help them fit in with the crowd; Their ravenous desire to be relatable actively prevents them from learning upon past mistakes when creating new music & also keeps them from enjoying some of the most fulfilling sonic experiences around, but I suppose it’s just the luck of the draw, something we’ll need to combat as a team to improve our culture rather than hoping I can change your minds all on my own – Regardless, I hope a steady stream of listeners eventually find their way to Pageant Material, as it contains so many fantastic hints as to how Golden Hour would develop with songs like “Are You Sure (feat. Willie Nelson) Hidden Track” in addition to giving budding Country artists a dissenting voice of inspiration to follow as they carve out the next progressive path Country music will take, thus cementing itself as an important piece of modern Country culture we’ll all be referring to in the future when the scene reaches its next revolutionary iteration. But, hey, you don’t need to listen to my opinion when they songs speak for themselves; Go forth & enjoy the hell out of this album!

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

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 6 mins read

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.

I Love Album Experiences Where The Track Order Is Designed With Styles In Mind

Sometimes you’ll get an album where all the hits are in the beginning, while others save them for the end, or whole sub genres are grouped in ordered sections, but here, I rather think that each song comes on when it needs to, so the variety can be heard throughout the duration. Things kick off nicely with “Silver Lining”, a haunting acoustic strum-along whose melody I’ve never really heard before – the mark of an original artist. I have no idea where the notes come from or are going, but man, do I love each and every one. Kacey Musgraves’ vocals lilt and blend with the melody line so well, going places that less sophisticated acts simply don’t go – perhaps out of fear of not being catchy enough for the audience or something. This is not some atmospheric meandering piece though – it’s a real song with a real structure – it’s just that the notes are never the easy ones and that is what makes a ballad more emotional and memorable to me. But to be sure, it’s is not overly melancholic – it has a hop along spirit that perfectly mirrors the point of its title – “Silver Lining.” My favorite kind of song dance back and forth between sunshine and rain. The song suggests “if you want to find a four leaf clover, you’r gonna have to get some dirt on your hands.” Perfect lyrics. A sprite and old fashioned acoustic knee slapped takes us back to the rich days of such music, but twists it in a new way with some really odd and beautiful key changes that ‘just’ fit. If you didn’t know by now, this girl can write a dang song. Then we are back to somber choruses that you can’t help but feel connected to – as it bittersweetly describes how life can’t be paused, as it’s title suggests “Merry Go Round.” Again, the haunting guitar slide notes are like ‘where the heck did you pull that rabbit out of?’ It truly pulls at your heart, without making you too sad. So from acoustic numbers to bluegrass excitement, we also get some Rock n Roll through “Blowin’ Smoke”, where Musgraves adopts a more youthful and drawl heavy accent set to a sort of bad ass track which has all the ingredients for being real loud and anthemic, yet keeps most of the energy bottled up. It is perfect exactly how it is, but its is also intriguing to detect that the same exact song in the hands of Aerosmith or Bon Jovi would be a mega loud 80s Hair Metal track, by just switching out the instruments.

When You Thought You Heard It All, There’s More, From Spanish To Americana Folk

I was pleasantly surprised by the Spanish influences to be found on “I Miss You”, which, though I’m a Country novice, I would say probably fits the sub genre of Tex Mex. We have a Latin time signature, but also banjos and slide guitars which sound like they’d sound right as rain in a cowboy western. I have always loved how romantically such sounds can come together, and the lyrics are sad but kind of hopeful, where Kacey Musgraves describes how lucky her life has been lately, though she feels empty still because she admits that she misses a guy she has just ran into. I like how that is not the usual thru-line for a break up song – and more realistic to what really happens in life. With a more American spin to the acoustics, “It Is What It Is” transports me back in time to the days of the pioneers, hooking me with some of the most beautiful notes I’ve heard in a long time – and there is nothing sweeter than Musgraves forlorn whining vocal over just how much she loves a man, unabashedly. “Back On the Map” is the most Pop forward beat on the track, and it still manages to promote analog instrumentation’s and banjo – showing suck dedication to traditionalism even on a modern drum beat. “Step Off” hops along and is probably the second obvious Pop arrangement because of it’s bright beachy vibe. “Dandelion” and “Keep It Yourself” are good tracks, but get a little lost amidst more memorable music on the album, but that is quite an achievement, to have all of your debut music come across in such an accomplished way. There’s nothing that Kasey Musgraves, and we would only see her creatively morph throughout her career into one of the most creative and original artists of today. I feel the raw banjo rocker of “Stupid” is one of the clearest indicators of the edgy style she will push hard for in time.

How Kacey Musgraves Saved Country-Pop From Total Destruction

It’s a tale as old as time: “I love music, I listen to every genre…well, everything but Country” – For years, Country music was a completely different world separate from the rest of the music industry, plagued by cultural differences, racist stereotypes & all manner of unwarranted negativity from listeners on the outside. As the genre drifted further & further towards straight-up Pop in the early- to mid-teens, there was naturally much more positive reception from audiences, but this came at the cost of the soul of Country itself, as all the twang, aching hearts & true musicianship faded from view entirely – Then, like a beacon of hope, Kacey Musgraves released Golden Hour & shook the earth beneath literally everyone’s feet.

Written by camjameson  / Feb 01, 2019
  • #CountryPop
  • #GoldenHour
  • #KaceyMusgraves
  • #Feminist
  • #Groovy
  • #Psychedelia
  • #TraditionalCountry
  • #BestOf2018
  • #Dance
  • #RollerRinkJams
  • #WomenOfCountry

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12. Artist Info

About

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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Born

    1988-08-21

Active

    2006–present

Label

  • Mercury Nashville
  • MCA Nashville