Kacey Musgraves’ debut major label album Same Trailer Different Park
I’m late on the Kacey Musgraves train. Really late.
Same Trailer Different Park came out nearly a year ago and has since made it all over 2013’s critics’ best of lists, and it won the Grammy for Country Album of the Year.
My first exposure to Kacey came when Follow Your Arrow was the iTunes Free Song of the Week in October. Its progressive themes instantly differentiated the song and her from most country music artists and coupling that with the recognition she was receiving, I knew I was missing out on something.
Follow Your Arrow, co-written with Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark, points out the hypocritical double standards that exist when everybody is expected to fall in line with small-minded social norms but judgment still gets passed if done too well. “If you save yourself for marriage/you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage/you’re a horrible person,” and yes, that is a play in place on ‘horrible’. Kacey deliciously concludes that “you’re damned if you do/and you’re damned if you don’t/so you might as well just do/whatever you want.”
Her single Merry Go Round is more subtle with its similarly themed lyrics about small-town life where traditions remain in place that women should have babies young and everybody goes to church, whether they believe or not. Its refrain is what cemented Kacey for me as she sings “Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay/Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane/Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down/Mary, Mary quite contrary/We get bored, so, we get married/Just like dust, we settle in this town.”
The songwriting is the primary grabber of this album where Kacey leaves behind the standard tales of country living and provides a fresh perspective to life in the place where she calls home. Her sound is refreshing but not overwhelming, sitting comfortably enough within the genre that non-country fans can still easily be won over with her style of tell-it-like-is singing.
She keeps the banjo, varies from the folk and bluegrass end of country to the blues and alt end but still maintains some pop melodies that make her accessible to a wider audience as she sings about the struggles of love and small-town life.
Despite the accolades, Kacey has yet to be fully embraced by country radio, with only Merry Go Round reaching #10. While women haven’t been getting love from the airwaves for some time, it may be a blessing in disguise for her. Her progressive songs and sharp lyrics might not have passed if her record was made on the expectation that radio airplay would be a given. As she sings in Step Off, “Don’t wreck my reputation/let me wreck my own.”
1. Silver Lining
2. My House
3. Merry Go ‘Round
5. Blowin’ Smoke
6. I Miss You
7. Step Off
8. Back On The Map
9. Keep It To Yourself
11. Follow Your Arrow
12. It Is What It Is