Review: Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

Kacey Musgraves released one of the two or three most important country albums of the decade back in 2013. The LP—her breakthrough, Same Trailer, Different Park—tossed a whole slew of country conventions in the garbage disposal with an “I don’t give a fuck” smile. Musgraves sounded sarcastic, but not disrespectful. Jaded, but not overly cynical. Instead of praising hometowns like most of her contemporaries, she painted them as havens for close-minded, philandering burnouts. Instead of steering well-clear of anything resembling a progressive political message, she sang about kissing lots of boys…or kissing lots of girls, if that’s what you’re into. Compared to the bro country wave that was on a cruise at the time, Musgraves was a breath of fresh air.

In the years since, a lot more artists like Kacey have come out of the woodwork—to the point where there’s no longer even a point in painting an “us vs. them” battle between the country mainstream and the “insurgency.” These days, most of the biggest “insurgent” heroes are shifting a boatload of records, scoring Grammy nominations, and selling out major headlining tours. It shouldn’t be understated how instrumental Musgraves was in creating an environment where that kind of harmonious balance could happen.

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Review: Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material

Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material

Country music is ripe for a civil war.

Over the course of the last few years, Nashville has segmented into two very distinct groups. On one side of the industry, there are the people who are willing to play the game, to sacrifice the classic core of the country music genre—ostensibly, deep and unusual storytelling—in order to sell records. This group is where you will find the “bro country” collective, “artists” like Luke Bryan, the Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Billy Currington, Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, and pretty much every male singer on country radio. These guys write songs (or often, accept songs from other writers) that extoll the virtues of drinking, driving trucks, and objectifying women. Said songs are usually hollow, derivative, and overproduced, but boy, do they sell.

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