Jessica Hopper wrote the perfect review for this album on Pitchfork. If you want to read a wonderful piece of writing and an accurate description of everything that is on this album, then go check it out online. This review here is more of a personal account, but with the sentiments of Jessica’s noble effort.
Earlier in the year, I had the pleasure of going to a Kacey Musgraves’ concert in Sydney, where she showcased songs from her first album, Same Trailer Different Park and previewed some songs from this one, as well as adding some classics to the mix. (see previous review).
I owned the album and had given it a few spins, but I must confess that I didn’t know a lot about her until the gig. Her whole life was revealed on a platter. I anxiously awaited the release of her new album and then I missed it when it was released last month, it came around faster than expected!
Her first album was brilliant. It was going to be hard to top. Then this wonderful album started and as Jessica noted, “From the opening notes, Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material sounds like a sigh of relief. “
My favourite country music album of all time is Lee Ann Womack’s “ There’s More Where That Came From”. That album gave me faith that the traditional sound of country music would live on, with a modern slant. Kacey’s music gives me the same feeling. In many ways, Kacey’s music is not dissimilar to Lee Ann’s. It has the same heart, the same “real” country flavour and the messages and vocals are very close.
One reviewer said that some of the songs have “bumper sticker worthy quotes”. Well, heck, we all want to listen to something that we can relate to, that is the essence of country music.
High Time: The cool easy beat of this song, complete with hand claps and gentle twang take you almost to Mexico. The fact that she is from East Texas may explain that. Lovely opening.
Dime Store Cowgirl: Old school values, knowing who you are and feeling ok with that, having the country in you still, even when you aren’t there…..sounds like the story of my life and that is the major appeal of Kacey. She is just an ordinary gal in an extraordinary situation.
Late to the party: Priorites! It is a love song, with some great lines. Nice and easy.
Pageant Material: The title track. Perhaps should be called Not Pageant Material! It has parallels to the Sandra Bullock movie, which is apt, considering where Sandy is from. To be honest, I am glad that Kacey is not Pageant Material!
This Town: Small town blues…..and good times. The life in small town USA…or anywhere for that matter. Reminds me of a song from the seventies, recently revived by Beccy Cole and Melinda Schneider…..Mrs Johnson lives here….no relation!
Biscuits: Kacey sang this at the gig that I went to in Sydney. The biscuits in this song are the American kind, sort of like a savoury scone. It doesn’t really matter, it is a play on words, Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy…..sort of look after your own backyard before you look over the fence at what other people are doing.
Somebody to love: Introspective song, looking at the everyday things that we see in ourselves and others and realising that we are all very similar and want the same thing – in the end. One of the best on the album.
Miserable: Some people just aren’t happy unless they are miserable. They also have a way of making everybody else feel miserable too.
Die Fun: You won’t understand the title until you hear the song. Living for the moment, living, not just surviving…not wasting time.
Family is family: Title pretty much explains it. Love the lines in it, won’t spoil it for you but there are some fun lines in this song, an honest way of telling it like it is. Catchy and relatable….pun intended.
Good Ol’ Boys Club: Loretta, Tammy, Patsy and co would be proud of this one. Basically a song about those who conform and those who do not want to.
Cup of Tea: You can’t please everyone. Beccy Cole often says at her gigs that she will die trying. Kacey virtually asks the question: Why would you want to be? Though it is more like a statement than a question!
Fine: This one takes a few plays, not because it isn’t good, it is because you want to get all of the story. Basically, it is about saying that you are fine when you aren’t. About accepting your lot even when you shouldn’t.
Are you Sure (with Willie Nelson): The unmistakeable guitar playing of Willie Nelson. How can you hide that? (Says hidden song on the album!) This is a classic country song. Oh Joy! Great duet.
Many critics described Kacey’s first album as near perfect. I suggest that this one is perfect. Akin to Melinda Schneider’s Be Yourself in meaning; Kirsty Lee Akers in so far as the younger generation keeping the country flavour going and a little of that young cheekiness and Lee Ann Womack….definitely Lee Ann Womack. In the end though, it is autobiographical and it is Kacey’s story. Simple but quality musicianship and true country arrangements and a mix of heart and humour.
A slice of country heaven.