I can just picture eight-year-old Kacey Musgraves prancing around a ranch-style house in Mineola, Texas in white cowboy boots, not a hair out of place, borrowing her mothers blue eye shadow and gold hoop earrings for her impromptu performance aka singing along to The Dixie Chicks on her handheld karaoke machine. Her mom finds her, recognizes the makeup and jewelry, but Kacey looks so alive as she sings, her mom can't be mad. If she admits it she is proud, because when Kacey performs she is magnetic. When it comes to Kacey there is no question - she's born with it.
At some point in your life, you have to ask yourself if you are a genuinely compassionate person. Then you start thinking of people you know that are genuinely compassionate. Now I don't presume to know if Kacey is one of said people, but I do know that after listening to her album, she just might be. Kacey has won two Grammies for Best Country Album and Song (nominated for four). She supported Katy Perry on tour last summer. She has hundreds of thousands of fans. How does she do it?
Kacey gives you Kacey Musgraves fever, and it's the best type of fever to catch. Kaceys fever is the heart of country fever. If rock and roll is about rebellion, and pop is about fun, then country is about authenticity, and Kacey is one downright authentic gal [Ed. Note: I'm not dismissing Kacey Musgraves but I'm very skeptical that most radio country is about authenticity. It's about selling a specific version of America to a specific subset of listeners.]. This is why in her new album Pageant Material, Kacey can don a mustache, pretend to be a cowgirl, hell, she can even be onstage acting and I believe every word she says.
Kacey's new album, Pageant Material, is all about authenticity. In fact, while aesthetically Pageant Material is pointedly performed, this only strengthens the sense that her message is genuine.The contrast is striking. If you don't believe me just listen to her lyrics. Kacey co-wrote all thirteen tracks. She's honest about small town gossip, singing, "Too small to be lying/Way too small to cheat/Way too small for secrets/Cause they're way too hard to keep/And somebody's mama knows somebody's cousin" ("This Town"). She's honest about her looks as well, singing, "Who's to say I'm a 9.5/Or a 4.0 if you don't even know me" ("Pageant Material"). She's even honest about cheating, singing, "Most of us have cheated, the rest of us have tried/So I'll just do me honey you can just do you"("Biscuits"). My favorite lyrics, "We're all thorns and we're all roses/We're all looking down our noses at ourselves" ("Somebody To Love") - thank you Kacey for saying it straight. Kacey is using storytelling as a way in which to engage her audience - I am more than happy to suspend my disbelief in order to continue hearing Kacey's hazy voice balanced with country's finest banjo, acoustic guitar and string. In some way, Kacey's music really is a suspension of all things superficial.
Authenticity, however,has to be natural. Staying genuine with thousands of fans is not easy. How does Kacey stay true? Firstly, by using audio in her music from her grandma who passed away. That is certainly one way to stay focused on pure motivations. Aside for her grandma's audio, Kacey's narrative content is about being honest, reconnecting to your core self, and listening to your heart - and you just can't fake that. Of course, Kacey says it best when she says, "You can take me out of the country/But you cant take the country out of me"("Dime Store Cowgirl"). No Kacey, we can't and we would never dare even try.