Country music hasn’t been fair to its underappreciated female populace, especially lately, as dudes increasingly dominate airplay with their beer-guzzling, truck-revving, bro-y ways. And even if Kacey Musgraves doesn’t change that – and let’s hope she does – she’ll at least have something to say about it.
That’s because the spunky Texas talent has a lot to say about a lot of things.
She said those things on Wednesday night at the Michigan Theater, where the rabble rouser casually preached gay rights by slipping in a clever lesbian line on “Follow Your Arrow,” acknowledged the simple predicament of friends-with-benefits “fun” on “It Is What It Is,” and pointed the finger (the middle one, obviously) at judgy snoops. “The Trailer Song” asks a “nosy bitch” to “keep your two cents on your side of the fence,” expressing the check-yourself sentiment with an old-timey Southern sway personifying the quintessential musical essence of Musgraves.
In many ways, the 26-year-old possesses the same qualities that made Dolly Parton a superstar; though cutesy with her mannerisms – Musgraves wore light-up boots during the encore of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” – the up-and-comer is more than just charm and cowgirl getups. Beyond the glittery tights lies a storyteller with an established worldview and an emotional complexity that sneaks up on you, neatly tucking her razor-sharp country commentaries into your consciousness.
The wordplay is often incriminating, and though her career is just getting started – her stellar debut, “Same Trailer Different Park,” was released in 2013 – Musgraves is destined to be crowned Country Diss Queen. She will wreck you with a rhyme. She will piss all over you with a pun. Or she’ll just tell you to jump off a cliff because you’re a godless waste of oxygen and even the ground doesn’t want you, which she does on “Step Off,” one of many songs she performed from “Same Trailer.” The melodies, though, are lulling, fostering a striking contrast between music and repartee; it’s like listening to the maddest mouse sing the most hateful lullaby.
And sometimes it’s not that at all.
When she wasn’t peeved about the human race’s out-of-turn judgments during her hour-and-a-half set on Wednesday night, she and her five-piece band made “My House,” a downright adorable trailer ditty about love on wheels, into a campfire sing-along; she revealed the dark drawbacks of small-town living during her breakout single “Merry Go ‘Round”; and on the not-gay “Rainbow,” a new single to look forward to from her tentative June release, she sang about helping someone find their silver lining. With a soon-to-be country megastar in its midst on Wednesday night, Michigan – and all of country music – found its sunshine and its rainbow. Her name? Kacey Musgraves.