Two decades ago — long before Same Trailer Different Park turned her into a Grammy-winning country star with sold-out tours and Top 10 hits — Kacey Musgraves participated in her first (and only) beauty pageant.
“My hometown is pretty famous for its sweet potatoes,” she says, “and every year, they hold the Golden Sweet Potato Festival. They crown a Sweet Potato Queen and a Little Miss Tater Tot for little girls. I only competed for Little Miss Tater Tot once, when I was about three, and lost miserably to a girl in a sparklier dress.”
The pageant world, with its fake smiles and sky-high hairdos, wasn’t the best match for Musgraves. She was more interested in songwriting, finishing her very first tune at 9 years old and learning her first instrument, the mandolin, as a pre-teen. Years later, though, the peculiarities of daily life in a small town — along with the places she’s visited (and people she’s met) since moving away— are back on her mind.
It’s been years since Musgraves lived in Golden, Texas, her childhood home of roughly 600 people, but the whirlwind that followed Same Trailer Different Park — a debut album that topped the country charts, took home two Grammy Awards (including Country Album of the Year) and sent Musgraves halfway across the world on tour — made her think hard about where she came from. Pageant Material, her second album, pays tribute to those Bible Belt roots, shining a light on a hometown girl who’s grown up, expanded her worldview and done a lot of livin’ since skipping town. It’s an album about where she’s from and where she’s going, full of autobiographical details that are humorous one minute and heartwarming the next.
“I really wanted this album to have a classic feel, like a lot of the records I know and love,” says Musgraves, who name-checks artists like Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell and Ronnie Milsap as influences on Pageant Material‘s easygoing stride. “I intended on it having a laid-back yet lush, slightly kitschy, western vibe. And most of all, I wanted it to feel like me.”
Appropriately, all thirteen of the album’s songs were co-written by Musgraves, who teamed up with the same group of songwriters who’d helped bring Same Trailer Different Park to life several years earlier. Those names may be familiar — Brandy Clark, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, along with additions like Natalie Hemby and Ashley Arrison — but the songs are new, dreamt up during a songwriter’s retreat in West Texas as well a handful of sessions back home in Nashville.
During the gorgeous “Late to the Party,” Musgraves lingers with her boyfriend before a big get-together, knowing that he, not the party, is the real destination. She kicks back and enjoys life at a slower speed with “High Time,” whose twangy chorus — punctuated by a whistled riff worthy of a high-lonesome cowboy — doubles as a nod to the childhood years Musgraves spent performing western swing music. On “Dimestore Cowgirl,” she breezes through some of the more surreal highlights of her days on the road, from an early-morning European boat ride that took her band past the White Cliffs of Dover to a night spent in the same middle-of-nowhere motel where Gram Parsons spent his final hours. “I’m still the girl from Golden,” she admits during the song’s chorus, a reminder that no matter how big her career gets, she’ll always be a small-town native. Later, with “This Town,” she stresses the importance of staying pleasant in a cozy town where everyone knows you, and during “Biscuits” — a song inspired by her mother’s advice to “kill ‘em with kindness” — she explains some simple, yet important, things she’s learned her 26 years.
Musgraves recorded Pageant Material in a unique way, capturing the songs during a series of live studio sessions. The goal was to harness the energy of her concerts, rather than build a record track-by-track and overdub-by-overdub. To lighten the mood, she decorated Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with fluorescent, life-size cacti and served fresh biscuits during breaks. She also brought a handful of plastic beauty pageant crowns into the studio and handed them out to her band, which included members of her touring lineup as well as pedal steel player Paul Franklin, drummer Fred Eltringham, and other top-tier players from the Nashville community. Musgraves pulled triple duty during the recording sessions, serving as singer, songwriter and co-producer on every track.
Since Pageant Material is such a personal project, it’s only appropriate that several family members contributed to the album’s creation. “This Town” begins with the voice of Musgraves’ beloved Memaw — grandmother Barbara Taylor — who worked as an ER nurse in Texas until her passing in December 2013.
“We always loved to get her going, telling stories about the crazy stuff she’d seen lately at work,” Musgraves remembers. “One night a couple years ago, we were all sittin’ around her in the living room and made her tell stories. I secretly pressed record on my phone. I just thought for some reason I should, never thinking I’d end up using it. This particular part of the record has been a source of sadness and happiness at the same time. I really miss her, but it makes me smile knowing that her voice has literally become embedded in my musical legacy.”
Likewise, Musgraves’ little sister, Kelly Christine Sutton, shot the photographs for the album, including the throwback cover art. On a record that deals so heavily with Musgraves’ roots — where she came from, how she grew up, and what her small hometown looks like from afar — the presence of her relatives adds an authentic touch.
“Pageant Material lives in a western-tinged world, and the songs are like little stories,” Musgraves says. “They set a vibe and a tone, and all make sense living in the same space. I think I’ll always be affected by growing up in a small town, so it still inspires a lot of my writing. But there are some viewpoints on this record that I hadn’t written from yet. More than anything, it’s life and society, making mistakes and my relationships that continue to inspire me.”
Kacey Musgraves presents her fourth album Golden Hour to be released on March 30th via MCA Nashville. The multiple Grammy-winning artist co-wrote and co-produced the album with Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian. Kacey reveals, “I had a different mindset this time, which was feeling rather than thinking – leading heart first.” Her most intimate album to date, Golden Hour, is introduced with two key tracks, the captivating and melancholic “Space Cowboy,” and the uplifting, dreamy “Butterflies.” Both tracks are available instantly upon pre-ordering here (see full track listing below). Kacey will perform new music on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday, February 26th.
Golden Hour follows the massive success of Kacey’s critically-acclaimed albums Same Trailer Different Park, Pageant Material and A Very Kacey Christmas. Both Same Trailer Different Park and Pageant Material debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, with Kacey becoming the first solo female in 5 years to top the chart with a rookie release and only the seventh to do so in Nielsen SoundScan’s 22-year history. Kacey has won 2 Grammy Awards for Best Country Album and Best Country Song (“Merry Go ‘Round”), 2 CMA Awards for “New Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” (“Follow Your Arrow”), and an ACM Award for Album of the Year.
Kacey will tour extensively through 2018, kicking the year off with The Breakers Tour with Little Big Town and Midland. She’ll play the highly-coveted second slot at Stagecoach following Keith Urban on April 28th before joining Harry Styles as direct support on his major summer tour, including 2 nights each at New York City’s legendary Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’ iconic The Forum. In addition to her significant touring presence in the U.S., Kacey continues to break boundaries as one of the most successful country artists in Europe, selling out a headline show at London’s Royal Albert Hall during her last album and headlining this year’s C2C: Country to Country Festival at London’s famed O2 Arena, Dublin and Glasgow. For full list of dates, visit http://www.kaceymusgraves.com/tour.
Golden Hour Tracklist:
- Slow Burn
- Lonely Weekend
- Oh, What a World
- Love Is a Wild Thing
- Space Cowboy
- Happy & Sad
- Velvet Elvis
- Wonder Woman
- High Horse
- Golden Hour
Chris Stapleton is Justin Timberlake’s special guest on today’s Brit Awards. The pair will perform their duet, “Say Something,” from the pop superstar’s new album, Man of the Woods.
Kacey Musgraves will perform during Monday night’s (February 26th) Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC.
Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley is teaming up with Jake Owen next Thursday (March 1st) to perform a show at Topgolf Nashville’s live music venue, The Cowan, to benefit pediatric cancer research at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Click here for ticket information.
Jon Pardi and Kip Moore will perform during the Academy of Country Music’s “Party for a Cause” events in Las Vegas prior to the ACM Awards. For ticket info, go to partyforacause.com. The ACM Awards will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas April 15th at 8pm ET on CBS.
Kacey Musgraves will be featured on the new Johnny Cash project, Forever Words, a collection of unknown poetry and unfinished lyrics from the Man in Black. The album was produced by John Carter Cash, the only son of the country icon and June Carter Cash.
Kacey and her husband, Ruston Kelly, put music to the song, “To June This Morning,” a letter Johnny wrote to his wife. Other artists on the project include close friends and fellow Outlaws, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, as well as Brad Paisley, the late Chris Cornell, daughter Rosanne Cash and June’s daughter Carlene Carter, John Mellencamp, Jewel and Elvis Costello, among others.
Beyond grateful and excited to be included in this ‘Johnny Cash: Forever Words’ project. Unknown poetry of Johnny’s set to music by my husband and I, and a very incredible gathering of iconic artists 🖤 There’s so much love and magic in our recording. April 6 pic.twitter.com/Fdgb3NN7j9
— K A C E Y M U S G R A V E S (@KaceyMusgraves) February 9, 2018