Kacey Musgraves: Her aim is true

Jun 19, 2013 at 5:00 am
Kacey Musgraves: Her aim is true
Photo by Kelly Christine Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves will take the “Hot Country Nights” stage at Fourth Street Live Friday as a rising star, one who has taken not only Nashville but the entire music world by storm. By doing so, it will update her memories of Louisville.

The first time she visited, she went somewhere — probably Fourth Street Live — while on a spontaneous road trip with four other women, some of the first friends the Texas native had made in Nashville. Musgraves remembers “… lots of inside jokes, bar hopping — (it was) right when we turned 21, so it was really exciting. Just meeting random people, ending up at a random Waffle House real late at night … So that’s pretty much my memory of Louisville.”

The past year has been full of even more exciting memories for the singer/guitarist and songwriter, whose fourth album, Same Trailer Different Park, has been one of the most well-received albums of 2013. The momentum began last fall, when her single “Merry Go ‘Round” shocked some and thrilled some in Music City, U.S.A., with its memorable lines like Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay / Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane / and Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down / Mary Mary quite contrary / We get bored so we get married And just like dust we settle in this town / On this broken merry go ’round.

Trailer is her first major-label release after three self-released efforts and a stint on “Nashville Star” failed to push her into the spotlight (like “American Idol”’s Jennifer Hudson, she placed seventh in the TV competition). In classic Grammy tradition, she is a likely nominee for their Best New Artist category, despite her decade-plus of experience.

“That would be insane,” she says slowly, sounding overwhelmed by the possibility. “I would freak out, if that was the case. I wouldn’t even know how to handle it … But hey, I’ll take it!”

The 24-year-old from Golden, Texas, began singing at age 8, studied guitar with the small-town teacher who also taught Miranda Lambert and Michelle Shocked, and released her first album, Movin’ On, through CD Baby in 2002. Now she’s winning ACM Awards and selling hundreds of thousands of records.

The former songwriter-for-hire is now the boss. “Yeah, it’s different. I really enjoy the writing part. When I was just writing as much as possible, and meeting new writers almost every day, I learned a lot about myself — personally, but also musically. I enjoy both, but writing definitely has my heart.”

Her perspective on hearts and personal relationships is on full display in “Follow Your Arrow,” her well-timed yet still controversial song about who and how to be. 

Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points

“Is there anything you are afraid to say?” LEO asks.

“No. Not really,” Musgraves replies with a healthy amount of sassy self-confidence, followed by a satisfied laugh.

“It’s my favorite to play,” she says about “Arrow.” “It was one of the most fun to record, too, because sonically I was really going for an old-school, Glen Campbell, Marty Robbins country vibe. I feel like we nailed that part of it.”

Are you more Countrypolitan, like those guys, or more of an Outlaw, like Willie and Waylon?

“I don’t feel like an outlaw,” she says. “But I’m a huge fan of Willie and what he does. I also do love the more ’70s California country sound.”

Musgraves can also be heard on Dierks Bentley’s latest single, “Bourbon in Kentucky.” “Yeah! Yeah, that’s super cool,” she exclaims at the mention of the song, drawing out her first “yeah” for multiple syllables. “That was really fun to be a part of, and I really like the song a lot.”

Musgraves feels happy and supported in Nashville. “You’re surrounded by people who are so much more talented than you,” she laughs, “so you can really hone your craft and know what you’re talking about. It’s fun to jump into the scene there, get better and get inspired by people around you.”

Kacey Musgraves
with Brothers Osborne
Friday, June 21
Fourth Street Live
Free; 7 p.m.