Kacey Musgraves

  • Kelly Christine Musgraves
  • Kacey Musgraves

Tomorrow night Kacey Musgraves, one of Nashville’s hottest young singers, rolls into Joe’s to perform in support of her chart-topping album Same Trailer Different Park (Mercury). In some ways the 24-year old Texas native fits squarely into country’s current mainstream, writing overdone pop melodies for songs like “Back on the Map” and “Keep it to Yourself,” and serving up predictable romantic dross on “I Miss You.” But more often than not she pushes against convention while working from within the machine, whether it’s prominence of banjo in her often small-bore arrangements or lyrics that bristle against small-town living and patriarchal desires.

On the single “Merry Go ‘Round” she rejects small-town life where “If you ain’t got two kids by 21 / You’re probably gonna die alone,” and where suffocating expectations routinely turn sour. Musgraves use cleverness to soften how harsh certain lines are, such as that song’s chorus, which begins: “Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay / Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane / Daddy’s hooked on Mary, two doors down.” “Blowin’ Smoke” observes a handful of waitresses who keep telling themselves that they’ll move on when they’re good and ready, knowing full well that they’re on the same kind of treadmill as the families in “Merry Go ‘Round.” Her song “Follow Your Arrow” is a virtual anthem for going against the grain and trusting your gut, invoking one damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t conundrum (“If you can’t lose the weight than you’re just fat / But if you lose too much then you’re on crack”) after another, before advising: