Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
Despite Same Trailer Different Park’s use of a host of familiar country music themes - mainly centred around small town USA - Kacey Musgraves' major label debut was a unique take on those most overused motifs. An open attitude to smoking pot and gay rights garnered it plenty of attention (including a Grammy for Best Country Album) and a number one slot on the US Country Music chart; throw in some CMA Awards and a Gold disc and you’ve a pretty successful female country singer-songwriter, still something of a rarity. It’s safe to say that after four never-ever-mentioned independent albums, Musgraves finally made it - everyone’s favourite All-American girl.
Right from the first lines of Pageant Material (“It’s high time / To slow my roll / To let the grass grow / To lean right back” on ‘High Time’) it's clear she means to address her meteoric rise. ‘Dimestore Cowgirl’ continues that thread, listing highlights (“I’ve had my picture made with Willie Nelson” and “I’ve seen the White Cliffs of Dover from the shore”) and claiming “I got too big for my britches”. The record shares many of the witty lyrical flourishes and clever lines (“Oh, who needs confetti? / We’re already falling into the groove” on ‘Late To The Party’) of Musgraves’ debut, and continues with those themes of smalltown America. But there’s a twist of sorts. Where the Texas girl once wanted to escape she now embraces her home and family: ‘Family Is Family’; the gossip-mongers of ‘This Town’ and lead single ‘Biscuits’. This is a warmer, less acerbic record than Same Trailer... .
Most are just incredibly fine tunes, from the title track (“I ain’t pageant material / I’m always higher than my hair”) to the closing trio of ‘Good Ol’ Boys Club’, ‘Cup Of Tea’ and fairytale-like ‘Fine’. There are few other artists in country music today that can (co)write songs that are so accessible to a wider audience and embrace traditional sounds and themes with wide open arms. You’ll be hard pushed to find better in 2015.