KACEY MUSGRAVES – PAGEANT MATERIAL: A SONG-BY-SONG REVIEW

More than two years ago, Kacey Musgraves released her debut album Same Trailer Different Park under Mercury Nahsville. It was praised for its incredible songwriting, won the Grammy for the Best Country Album and is one of my favourite albums from the last five years. Today, Kacey releases her much-anticipated second album Pageant Material and I decided to write down what I thought of each song as I was listening to the album for the first time. Below is a mostly unedited song-by-song review of the entire album.

Not since the release of 1989 have I been this excited to listen to an album. Just reading through the track list I am filled with anticipation. I can only image the wonderful stories and perfectly crafted couplets I’m about to experience. So let’s get started, shall we?

High Time

And just like that my hopes are dashed. I’m all for bringing back some good old country, but I feel like I stepped into a time-machine and was transported back 50 years. And the apparent invention of said time-machine doesn’t even excite me. Why was this chosen as the opening track? If this is supposed to represent the album then I’m worried.

Best line: ‘Nobody needs a thousand dollar suit to take out the trash’

(After listening to the album a few more times, I feel like High Time definitely represents the message of the album, but still shouldn’t have been chosen as the opening track.)

Dime Store Cowgirl

Ooh…this sounds better. So sweet and cute! A Willie Nelson name-drop? Check! Obligatory song  about new-found fame and fortune?  Double check. But unlike all the other songs of this nature, Kacey somehow manages to talk about ‘making it’ without it feeling like she’s bragging.

The story behind the title is beautiful too:

Best line: “Just ‘cause it don’t cost a lot, don’t cost a lot, don’t mean it’s cheap.”

Late to the Party

I love this unconventional love song. Adorable lyrics and an unexpected lilt when she sings ‘with you’ in the chorus.

Best line: ‘Gonna look real good, gonna look rude, sorry I’m not sorry.’

Pageant Material

Now this made me smile. There’s the small town truth-telling Kacey we know and love.

Notable line: ‘I wish I could but I can’t wear a smile when a smile what I’m not feeling’ – probably referring to this moment when Miranda Lambert won Best Female Vocalist at the CMA Awards and the cameras captured Kacey’s frowning resting face and everyone made a big deal about it.

Kacey3

Best line: “And it ain’t that I don’t care about world peace but I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage’.

The fact she made this work in a chorus earns her some big brownie points.

This Town

Hmm interested opening speaking part. This is gonna be a story song!!

Best line: ‘Somebody’s momma knows somebody’s cousin and somebody’s sister knows somebody’s husband and somebody’s daughter knows somebody’s brother and around here we look out for each other. ’

I find it a bit contradictory – listing all the good things about small towns but then saying ‘this town’s to small to be me’. Although, I can relate to that feeling all too well. I feel like I need a couple of listens to fully appreciate and digest the details.

Biscuits

And we get to the first single! I’ve heard this quite a bit already… it’s reminiscent of ‘Follow Your Arrow’ and has a really wonderful message. Kacey has a great way of taking an important concept and writing it into two simple lines that rhyme and sound like you’ve heard them a thousand times before.

She always puts a fresh twist on all those old sayings we’ve heard so many times and is able to say basically the same thing 10 different ways without it sounding like she’s trying too hard to find a rhyme (as songs often do).

Best line: ‘Most of us have cheated, the rest of us have tried.’

That bridge though <3

Somebody to Love

Strings that sound like bagpipes??

Does she have an encyclopedia of sayings memorised?? Another really sweet song – inspirational and motivational. When I’m having a bad day this is going to be what I’m listening to. It almost makes me want to cry and play it on repeat a few times. I always feel like I need to listen a few times to catch all the nuances and clever lyrics – a sign of great songwriting.

Best line: ‘We’re all trying to get heaven but not today.’

Miserable

I feel like this is the exact opposite of ‘Biscuits’. We all know that person whose ‘neighbour’s laundry’s always cleaner’

Best line: “You want happiness but you ain’t happy ‘less you’re miserable’

Only problem is that the song kinda makes me a little miserable. I can’t decide if all the minor chords make the song better. I feel like some majors would contradict nicely with the lyrics.

(After listening a few more times I think the chords perfectly fit the song – just a bit jarring on the first listen.)

Die Fun

I think I’m actually loving her choice to pair an inspirational message with minor chords and a slow tempo. It makes for a nice juxtaposition and suits her musical style. The little lilt on ‘They say it’s now or never and all we’re ever getting is older’ gives me happy little goosebumps.

Best line: ‘Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun’ – I want that on a poster stat!

Family is Family

I couldn’t type because I was so entranced with every word and rhyme. So accurate – it perfectly describes the family dynamic. Definitely my favourite so far!

Best line: ‘Don’t get you at all but the apple don’t fall to far from ‘em.’

‘You might look just like them that don’t mean you like them, but you love ‘em’

It was hard to stop myself from typing out the lyrics to the whole song.

This behind the scenes video made me love the song even more:

Good Ol’ Boys Club

From the title it appears we have a feminism song – I’d be surprised if we didn’t have one.

Rage against the machine! Interesting song – especially when you think about the current music industry. Especially country music which is dominated by male artists (a trend that has been spoken about a lot in the media lately). Subtle dig at the current state of country music and a not so subtle dig at Big Machine Records – the label that signed Taylor Swift, The Cadillac Three and Tim McGraw. Thank you Kacey, for saying it ‘Shouldn’t be about who it is you know but about how good you are.’

Best line: ‘Cigars and hand shakes – appreciate it but no thanks.’

Cup of Tea

Since mine has just cold – it’s time to make another cup!

Best opening line so far! ‘Maybe your jacket is a hand-me-down/Maybe you slept with half your home town.’

Man, she’s great at this songwriting thing. I can tell I’m going to be playing this hundreds of times over the next year. So good at reminding us that ‘hey life goes on’. Jealous of her easy-going attitude.

Thank you for always reminding us that ‘We’ve all got the right to be wrong.’

Best line: “Nobody’s everybody’s favourite so you might as well just make it how you please.’

Fine

I’m so sad that this is the last song!! Wait, it’s almost 8 minutes?? This is going to be good.

Ooh a waltz!

Is this the first pining/breakup song on the album??

Aww it’s not a breakup song – it’s a love song!

Best line: ‘My heels on the hardwood echo down the hall.’

Oh not an 8 minute song – a SECRET song! Even better!

Two for the price of one!

A duet! With Willie Nelson! Well if that isn’t the cutest thing, especially after listening to Dime Store Cowgirl, then I just don’t know what is.

I’m glad they made this a secret song – it’s a little too slow and doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album.

Best line: “So look around you and take a good look at all the local used-to-bes.”

And that’s it! If you got this far (wow – I didn’t think I’d have so much to say!) comment below with the title of your favourite song from the album. Which album should I live blog listening to next?