The thing about country music is that, for the longest time, it’s been saddled with several stereotypes that tend to turn off the more pretentious of us music fans.
You know what I mean. It’s too conservative or uber-patriotic or influenced by religion. Every song is about guns or trucks or beer. Or it’s about a guy drinking away his sorrows after losing his woman or his dog — or both.
I realize stereotypes are usually nothing more than gross generalizations and that there’s some solid music to be found in the country genre. But at the same time, I’ve already got my hands full in the indie realm and don’t have any desire to stray too far.
And today it’s Kacey Musgraves, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter from East Texas. When I first heard her mentioned on NPR’s “All Songs Considered” podcast late last year, I figured I was getting in on the ground floor with Ms. Musgraves.
Turns out, she’s been doing this whole music thing for more than a decade, having self-released three albums since 2002 when she put out her debut a month shy of her 14th birthday.
But she didn’t land on anyone’s radar until 2007 when she placed seventh on the reality show, Nashville Star. And this past spring she released her fourth full-length album and her first with the support of a record label.
On Same Trailer Different Park, Musgraves shows off the lyrical chops and crooning vocals that landed her several country music award nominations earlier this year.
I couldn’t help but post back-to-back videos. Both songs are so good and filled with clever wordplay and lyrics that seem practically foreign in a country song. From the opening line of “Merry Go ‘Round” — “If you ain’t got two kids by 21, you’re probably gonna die alone.” — to the main theme of “Follow Your Arrow” — “Damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, so might as well just do whatever you want.” — Musgraves takes all the adages and life lessons she learned while growing up and turns them on their head.
There are plenty more great lines scattered throughout the albums on songs such as “Silver Lining” (“If you’re ever gonna find a silver lining, it’s gotta be a cloudy day.”), “My House” and “Step Off”.
There are also some tracks that have a more traditional vibe — such as “Blowin’ Smoke”, “Back On the Map” and “It Is What It Is”. And then there’s “Keep It To Yourself”, which could probably be a hit on every country and pop chart out there if it was ever actually released as a single.
In addition to her own work, Musgraves has helped pen songs for such singers as Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson and also wrote a song for the Nashville TV soundtrack.
She’s currently on a tour that will take her to the West, Southeast and Northeast before jetting off to Europe in the fall.
From there, her next destination appears to be superstardom.