(My concert pictures turned out terribly so I’m using her album cover from Amazon)
I discovered Kacey Musgraves in the least likely place to find a new country artist-the New York Times Magazine. Her debut album “Same Trailer Different Park” lived up to the buzz that Kacey was an artist unlike anyone currently on country radio with a classic country throwback sound and lyrics more modern and insightful than artists in any other genre.
Since that March 2013 article, she has been nominated for nine CMA awards, won Grammys for Best Country Album and Best Country Song and toured with acts as different as Kenny Chesney and Katy Perry. Her fan base extends beyond country fans (even One Direction’s Harry Styles is a fan) and keeps on growing. Her outstanding performance at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago Saturday showed why she’s become so popular in such a short time.
Kacey played for a full hour and a half breezing through her hits like “Merry Go Round” and “Follow Your Arrow”, covers including “These Boots Were Made for Walking” and new songs. She moved easily between some of the slower songs on her album like “Back on the Map” and faster songs like the Miranda Lambert #1 hit she co-wrote “Mama’s Broken Heart” which kept the energy up for the whole show.
The fact that she has written songs as diverse and catchy as “Mama’s Broken Heart” (my personal favorite Miranda song) and “Merry Go Round” speaks to her incredible songwriting talent. She writes all of her own music and has a knack for storytelling and capturing universal themes in just a few words. Before she even released “Same Trailer Different Park”, she was a well-known songwriter in the country scene and wrote “Undermine” one of the best songs on “Nashville” so far.
All of her songs are clever and show wisdom and insight beyond her years. As she told the audience Saturday, the lyrics, which are generally interpreted as a statement on the hopelessness of small-town life, could apply to life in any location. It’s all in the mindset.
“Just like dust, we settle in this town. / On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go. / Where it stops nobody knows and it ain’t slowin’ down. / This merry go ’round.”
“We think the first time’s good enough. / So, we hold on to high school love. / Sayin’ we won’t end up like our parents. / Tiny little boxes in a row. / Ain’t what you want, it’s what you know. / Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’. / Same checks we’re always cashin’ to buy a little more distraction.”
Countless people in cities like New York, LA and Chicago are trapped on a merry go round.
I’m obsessed with song lyrics so I could write a thesis on this topic but I really do love her many songs about being yourself and ignoring the negative people around you. “Step Off”, “Follow Your Arrow”, a new song “Cup of Tea”, “Undermine” and “Trailer Song” are some of her best.
Kacey was a lot of fun on stage and her voice was wonderful as always. I also adored her 60s style pink shift dress. An artist like Kacey is a refreshing reprieve from the “bro country” that has been dominating Nashville recently. I hope to see her again soon.
Also, the opening band “John & Jacob” was a great surprise and gave one of the most assured performances I’ve seen in a while. Their song “Be My Girl” is a stand out and was also used on “Nashville”. You can check them out here.
Here are more great songs and music videos from Kacey, “Blowin’ Smoke” and “Follow Your Arrow”: