Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material

Kacey Musgraves - Pageant MaterialKacey Musgraves might be one of the top country music artists right now, but if you listen to country radio for her music, you’ll be waiting a long time. With female singers on country radio few and far between, plus Kacey’s manner of pointing out the hypocrisies of traditional small town values, she’s unlikely to be welcome with open arms.

And she seems to be quite alright with that.

If anything, on her second album Pageant Material, she’s taking that dismissal and running with it as she sings about topics she might not have had the freedom to as a radio darling. The production is also grittier than her first, with less polish and more qualities traditional of the genre. She seems perfectly fine letting any bridge with country radio burn.

But don’t let that lack of support suggest otherwise; Kacey is very country and she takes pride in that as she sings on the ballad Dime Store Cowgirl, “you can take me out of the country/but you can’t take the country out of me.”

Her unique and often blunt perspective returns throughout. On the title track, she cuts down beauty pageant culture, cleverly explaining why she’d never win, concluding that she’d “rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t.” This Town points out the realities of small town living, such as lack of excitement and privacy, but she paints it rosy by adding “around here we all look out for each other.” Family Is Family rolls out the good and bad of family much like Pheobe Buffet might do it if she were singing to a small audience. In either scenario, the song is try-hard and sits slightly out of place.

Kacey stands out most with her witty lyrics and playful delivery but she sounds equally as good when allows herself to blend in. The 1-2-3 punch of The Mexican-country flavoured High Time, the country-affirming Dime Store Cowgirl and the love song Late To The Party as the album openers show exceptional strength for her as an artist. That strength carries through right to the end with the heartbreaking Fine and her duet with Willie Nelson on his Are You Sure, which sits hidden.

Pagaent Material continues for Kacey Musgraves what Same Trailer, Different Park started for her two years ago. She’s still singing country music about non-traditional themes using sharp lyrics, but she shows herself to be more than a cowgirl rebelling against tradition. Take away all the tracks with social commentary and you’re still left with a solid collection of music, however keeping them gives Kacey a very distinct and refreshing persona in a sea of run-down pickup trucks and broken beer bottles.
Four stars

1. High Time
2. Dime Store Cowgirl
3. Late To The Party
4. Pageant Material
5. This Town
6. Biscuits
7. Somebody To Love
8. Miserable
9. Die Fun
10. Family Is Family
11. Good Ol’ Boys Club
12. Cup Of Tea
13. Fine
14. Are You Sure [with Willie Nelson] (Hidden Track)

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