Album Spotlight: Kacey Musgraves, ‘Same Trailer Different Park’ – ToC Critic’s Pick
Kacey Musgraves‘ Mercury Records debut album is everything a new artist dreams her first record will be. ‘Same Trailer Different Park’ is well-written, edgy (yet familiar) and coated in “cool.” Musgraves is an original who at age 24 is surprisingly wise and adept at using her voice to share her experiences.
The Texas singer co-wrote all 12 tracks on ‘Same Trailer Different Park,’ including her current Top 20 single, ‘Merry Go ‘Round.’ The strength of the lyrics on this album is difficult to overstate. Musgraves has a soft-spoken, introverted style that often falls back on familiar phrases or ideas and turns them into something new and brilliant. “Sticks and stones may build a throne / But you’ll be up there all alone,” she sings on ‘Step Off,’ a punchy little folk song about telling an ex to get lost.
The first five tracks are the heart of the album. ‘Silver Lining’ sounds like a can’t-miss single. Musgraves will be painted as some sort of bad girl because she sings about drugs and girls kissing girls (depending on interpretation) later on the album, but this opening track is absolutely uplifting. “If you’re ever gonna find a silver lining / It’s gotta be a cloudy day,” she reminds us before similar country inspirations.
‘Dandelion’ (“Just like him / You always leave me crying dandelion“) is another poetic story wrapped in acoustic guitar and heartbreaking metaphor. Next is ‘Blowin’ Smoke,’ her second single. Fans of Pistol Annies will embrace this story of wobbly dreams. Musgraves plays with the phrase “blowing smoke” to offer several meanings throughout the shuffling, blues-tinged track.
‘My House’ and ‘Stupid’ are the only real crank-it-up moments on ‘Same Trailer Different Park,’ an album that relies on more somber chord structures and melodies for effect. One wild moment might not have been a bad idea, perhaps in place of the sleepy ‘Back on the Map.’ However, an argument could be made that a splash of cherry red might have disrupted the pallet of grays, organic greens and yellows Musgraves has used to paint with such efficiency and passion.
The next to last track is ‘Follow Your Arrow,’ a song that is guaranteed to be the biggest controversy on country radio this year. “Make lots of noise / Kiss lots of boys / 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,” she sings.
It’s difficult to find a funny song with emotional depth, but this track hits on multiple levels. The singer has said in interviews that she’s pushing for it as a single, and if one is simply choosing the best songs to offer radio, it’s a no-brainer. One year from now we’ll all know if a new female artist can get away with some of the things Musgraves says early in this song. Our fingers are crossed.