By David Hennessy
With her fresh melodies and sharp, poetic lyrics, Kacey Musgraves is the exciting new star of country music. Her single, Merry Go Round illustrated how she was taking the scene by storm when it peaked at 14 in the US Country charts last year. Describing how people get trapped in a small town and wrong relationships by their decisions and addictions, the song contains references to drug use which are tame by pop standards but revolutionary for the country genre.
The accompanying album, Same Trailer Different Park, her major label debut, has been universally acclaimed and climbed to number 2 in the US charts while topping the country charts last month. Her music has featured in the hit drama, Nashville which is currently proving popular on More4 and Kacey was nominated for four awards at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. The Irish World caught up with Kacey when she was in London last week to launch her stunning debut collection, Same Trailer Different Park. “It was something I worked on for quite a while so to have it finally just out and in the music world and having people kind of connecting with it feels really good,” the Texas songstress told us.
Kacey toured this region last year with Nashville country pop group, Lady Antebellum and was delighted to be back: “I love it. I came in July last year. It was so much fun. I was with Lady Antebellum and I wasn’t really aware before coming here of their following so it was cool to see. I feel like I made a lot of new fans and I just love coming and travelling over here in general. It’s fun.
“Our first stop last July was Dublin and it was our favourite across the board. We loved it so much and everyone was so friendly and welcoming and just down for a good time and country music lovers, they were so sweet. We really wanna come back for sure.”
Does Kacey have some Irish blood? “I think so. I mean, I definitely have a lot of freckles. I think predominantly there’s a lot of English and some German but I think there’s some Irish too.”
While Kacey self-released three albums before she was 19 (releasing her first Movin’ On as a 13 year old in 2002), many are talking about Same Trailer Different Park like it is her debut. How does she feel about this? “Well, it’s only natural because they wouldn’t have heard of the others, ya know, and it’s okay with me because I feel I’m more comfortable now with who I am musically, so if they want to reference this as my first, that’s fine. The other ones might come as a bit of a surprise just because they’re a little bit different but yeah, I’ve been making music for quite a while but this is, I guess, the first one that most people will hear.”
Although never judgementally doing so, Kacey depicts small town inertia in Merry Go Round with lines like ‘If you ain’t got two kids by 21, you’re gonna die alone’. She also sings ‘brother’s hooked on Mary Jane’ and ‘Jack burned out on booze on pills’ which has been a bit too much for some. Has she been surprised by the controversy? “Well, going into it, I knew that there probably would be a little bit of controversy unfortunately only because of the genre and how conservative it can be. But it’s weird because the things I am singing out aren’t, for me, all that controversial. I guess it just depends on who you are and where you live. There has been a little bit but the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive mainly which has been cool.”
Kacey draws inspiration from real life and her revolutionary lyrics mark her out as leader of a new wave of forthright country stars: “I have to always start with something that inspires me first whether it’s just a line or an idea or something inside me or something maybe that I saw in somebody else around me. It starts there and then we build upon that so it’s all definitely very true to my heart and my mind.”
Blowin’ Smoke has been chosen as second single from the album but from an album with so many songs with single potential, which would Kacey like to see follow this one? “I haven’t even gotten that far down the road yet but I have my favourites, I want them all to be singles. I think they would all possibly work in their own way. I really love Follow Your Arrow, I think that would be a good one. Again that’s another one that would probably stir up a little bit of controversy. I also love Silver Linings, I’m not sure.”
For the full interview, see the April 27 edition of The Irish World.