It was a breezy, October night in Fort Worth, Texas, and hundreds were gathered in La Grave Field downtown to hear headliners Casey Donahew, Josh Abbott and Aaron Watson play Ranch Bash 2010. During Abbott’s set, he brought out a friend to sing a fan-favorite, “Oh, Tonight.” The Texas native was dressed in a casual, Aztec-print dress and cowboy boots — had one not been a fan of the Josh Abbott Band, they wouldn’t have even known her name: Kacey Musgraves.
That wasn’t even three years ago, and Musgraves is now set to release her first studio album, “Same Trailer Different Park,” on March 19. Musgraves' sound is comparable to a more refined Miranda Lambert, her longtime friend. Musgraves co-wrote Lambert’s hit-song, “Mama’s Broken Heart,” off Lambert’s fourth studio album, “Four the Record.” She has also recorded demos for the likes of Lambert and Martina McBride, but this past year brought Musgraves into her own spotlight.
Today everyone knows her by her Top 25 track, “Merry Go ‘Round,” which will be featured on the album and is also the song that the album name came from. Musgraves has a way of crafting her lyrics into a way that calls attention to what should be recognized in life. She showcases this ability in “Merry Go ‘Round” by wittily manipulating the storyline to mirror a classic nursery rhyme with a darker twist.
The song is about living in the South and growing up in a trailer park. The best way to describe the hit is as a beautiful tragedy. The chorus goes, “Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay, brother’s hooked on Mary Jane, and Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down/Mary, Mary quite contrary/We get bored so we get married, and just like dust we settle in this town on this broken merry go ‘round.” But her lyrical abilities don’t stop there.
Opening “Same Trailer Different Park” is “Silver Lining,” a slow, optimistic song that starts off with, “Woke up on the wrong side of rock bottom,” and ends, “If you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning, you’re gonna have to stand in the rain.” It’s about how people easily take things for granted, and if we want to have the happy things in life, we have to get a little dirty and take some risks to get there.
“Blowin’ Smoke” is a tease at the Southern trailer park stereotype: smoking cigarettes, having babies young and getting married and divorced, and just wasting the days away. The gritty, acoustic sound suits the roughness of her play on lyrics, especially with “Brenda’s traded smokes for cake, still hadn’t lost that baby weight, and that baby’s about to graduate … college.”
“Step Off” seems like a song Musgraves targeted at a certain person because she writes, “Step off/You’re getting too close to me with all your negativity/Just get lost.” The banjo she incorporates into it really brings the feel of southern twang into the song.
“Follow Your Arrow” is one of her concluding tracks, which she recently released for purchase on iTunes. It’s a slower one, but playful and arguably her wittiest track on the entire album. It starts, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a whore-able person.” The lyrics put off a message to just live one's life and not worry about what people think. In the chorus, Musgraves sings, “So make lots of noise, and kiss lots of boys … or kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into.” It’s a lighthearted way to conclude the album.
Musgraves has a great combination of serious and silly, slow and fast tracks on the album. She is a skilled lyricist who can tell a story as great as Johnny Cash, and her ability to switch between multiple string instruments and harmonica shows her musical capability. She encompasses everything that it takes to be a great country artist.
“Same Trailer Different Park” is available for pre-order on iTunes and is set to be released March 19.