I never would have guessed that in August one of my favorite records of the year so far would be a female vocalist, let alone a country female vocalist. That may sound sexist, but I promise it isn’t. In general, I am just not one for women singers. Of course, there are obvious exceptions: Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams, Emily Hearn, Allison Weiss, etc. But this recent record caught me way off guard.
I first heard Kacey Musgraves performing on last year’s Grammy’s. I enjoyed the performance and decided to check out the record she was promoting at the time, Same Trailer, Different Park. I liked it well enough, but it didn’t really blow me away. Because this type of music isn’t really my cup of tea, it takes an album being really, really great for me to love it. I liked the first record enough that when I heard she had recently put out a follow-up, I made sure to check it out. Now, this is where the story gets interesting.
I LOVE Pageant Material.
From the songs, to the production, to the artwork and everything in between, I think this record truly is special. One reason it stands out to me is that it is a bit atypical from the norm coming out of the country genre recently. It has a strong country/western vibe, lots of twang, makes me think of Willie Nelson and that era of country. Not that I know a lot about the genre AT ALL, it just makes me think of early Johnny Cash covered in sepia tones.
Another aspect that separates it from the rest of the crop to me is the lyrical subject matter. The album has 14 songs, including a bonus track, and lasts for 46 minutes. Out of these, only 2 are about men or love. Only 6 minutes out of 46 are romantic in any way. The other 40 minutes are about loving who you are, being yourself, and generally treating others well. In a genre that is stereotypically riddled with songs about heartbreak, chasing girls, and getting drunk Musgraves’ stands out as a voice showing that there is more to a woman than the man she is with or without. In my eyes, Kacey Musgraves is one of the best role models for young girls currently on the front lines of pop culture.
90% of you are reading this and rolling your eyes and scoffing at the inferior genre of country music. I implore you to give this record a shot. You may love it, you may hate it, but be open-minded and just try. You might surprise yourself with what type of music you like if you allow yourself to listen to music without worrying about the ‘image’ or how ‘cool’ the music may or may not be.