Every few years a voice comes along that is as refreshing and as necessary as the change in seasons. It’s not just the voice that is so special; it’s what’s being voiced as well. Kacey Musgraves is that artist. She has a mesmerizing quality that blends a note with an exasperated sigh or a optimistic sudden breath of hope. Just like the return of spring, it’s nice to have such a trustworthy country voice coming around the bend up ahead.
At times, her candor and wit (and fleeting, deceiving appearances of naivité) remind me of the young Nanci Griffith that I fell in love with, back when Nanci was performing at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cactus Café. Kacey Musgraves evokes that same lingering, literary musical quality (she is, after all, a native of Sulphur Springs, Texas). She also sounds a bit like the singer that long ago you hoped Taylor Swift might have turned into by now. But by track two, you realize that Kacey Musgraves is indeed a lone star; she’s one of a kind.
These aren’t just songs, they are works of art to be admired… the frames as well as the portraits. How spectacular it could be if these songs were woven together to comprise a new style of musical film. It’s all here — the characters, the points of view, the observant details that mark the difference between everyday life and art and, most of all, a generation of sophisticated country music fans ready for someone whose music they can call their own.
Soon, Kacey will begin several months as an opening act for Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes Nation” tour, which is a perfect pairing. He’s been steadily making artistic strides on album after album, while still keeping the fan base happy with reliable stadium radio-friendly material. With Musgraves on the bill, I can’t think of a better time to go back once more to a Kenny Chesney concert. She may specialize in intimacy, but her talent and her ideas are mammoth.
Kacey Musgraves is exactly what country music needs right now. She is an artist with an authentic country voice, who play her instruments with precision and feeling and who writes songs that are musical diary entries for the times and places she passes through. There is nothing false about her approach to her music; each song is an invitation to listen… a slowly revealed stance that makes your ears wonder if what they thought they just heard what really what she sang (and yes, it was). Kacey Musgraves represents an exciting new version of an age-old image of a strong female country artist; she is independent and honest and enjoys sharing a coherent view. If Loretta Lynn sometimes shocked her fans with her brave approach to subject matter, Musgraves’ bravery can be seen in the nonchalant way she disregards any of her ideas as shocking. Musgraves has co-produced the album with Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, giving her the chance to sing what she wants to sing, and to say what she wants to say while she’s singing it.
And, in case you missed the headline of this review, I’m thrilled to write that it’s the first must-have country album of 2013.
Essential Downloads: “Merry Go ‘Round,” “Dandelion,” “I Miss You,” “Keep It To Yourself,” “Follow Your Arrow.”
The album will be released on Tuesday, March 19th. To preview or purchase it on iTunes, click here.