NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 11, 2013 - Country newcomer Kacey Musgraves blasted into national prominence last year with her risk-taking debut single "Merry Go 'Round," a poignant reflection on small-town traditions. The singer-songwriter, who is a meager (yet wholly mature) 24 years old, offers up a refreshingly witty and honest perspective on her major label set, Same Trailer Different Park, out next week, March 19.
Unlike her guitar-swelling contemporaries (see: Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert), Musgraves isn't buying into her own hype with this 12-song collection. With the talent of memorable storytelling, she is able to craft a novel; each song is as jarring and poetic as a Charlotte Brontë paperback, and yet together, they represent a much greater whole. By turning each page, Musgraves reveals a small part of herself, raw, vulnerable and gasping for air. Her mastery of the English language is superb, especially on lead single "Merry Go 'Round," where she charges forward with simplistic truth. Also, she explores equal clarity on "My House" -- a song which features bluegrass and folksy roots not often explored by modern-day mainstream female vocalists. She continues her unrelenting charm on "Follow Your Arrow" -- rumored to be the next single -- a song about doing what you want no matter what society has to say about you, even if you like to "kiss lots of boys" or "kiss lots of girls."
Throughout Trailer, Musgraves draws upon a vast musical knowledge, almost paying homage to those groundbreaking musicians, ranging from bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to the queen of Country music, Kitty Wells. She even peppers in western influences, dipping her toes in cowboy music and channelling Roy Rogers and Bob Wills on "I Miss You." Similarly, "Blowin' Smoke" recalls early Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn through unabashed arrangement and crisp lyrics.
Even when the Texan settles in a rhythm, she pushes the envelope and scope of her material. Honky tonk, a genre long since forgotten, is another obvious influence throughout Trailer, particularly on "Step Off," a banjo-driven mid-tempo kiss-off to those stepping on the little people. Even the ballad "Keep It to Yourself" sees influences of Hank Williams and Conway Twitty masked in her tender, regretful delivery. There is a lonesome cry in Musgraves' voice that is most connected with her upbringing than anything vocal lessons could teach. Her craft is inherent.
Created from a deep-seated love of Country music roots and folk, Trailer is one in a million. Musgraves has pieced together a patchwork of remarkable melodies and heartfelt lyrics that any other Nashville artist would be envious to possess. Even her most worthy competition have not quite developed the same level of penmanship and artistry that 2013's most promising demonstrates here. Even without all the critical acclaim that has already been showered upon her, Musgraves would still be the shining beacon to usher in the new guard.
Other gems: "Stupid," "It Is What It Is"
NPR is graciously streaming Musgraves' upcoming debut all this week. Take a listen here.
Overall Rating: 5/5