I tend to give country music a wide birth unless it's the traditional kind pioneered by Hank Williams, Lefty Frizell etc I'm not a fan of the Nashvillepolitan style that is generic and formulaic give me anything but Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. So it took me awhile to come across this country gem, and whilst it's been a big crossover success there isn't anything safe or mundane about Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves. Country is at it's best when it embraces rebelliousness mixed with humour and some defiance thrown in for good measure. Rather than the chest beating God fearing lyrics country tends to embrace Musgraves opts for something more heartfelt and honest. She puts small town southern America under the microscope and the stories resonate with hardship, struggle, addiction and feelings of hopelessness.
Silver Lining offers an optimistic beginning in the face of adversity, the idea that from the darkest moment comes a ray of light
If you're ever gonna find a silver lining
It's gotta be a cloudy day
If you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning
You're gonna have to stand in the rain
Musgraves doesn't try to push to hard on this one, all the familiar sounds are there the banjo and pedal steel there is no caving for pop sensibility on this tune. The bright My House extols the joys of living mobile,
Water and electric and place to drain the septic
Any KOA is A-OK as long as I'm with you
So come on hitch your wagon
To the living room I'm draggin
If I can't bring you to my house
I'll bring my house to you.
Merry Go Round is about small town values and they way in which they suffocate the next generation, church and family the binds of small town America don't always offer a path to happiness.
If you ain't got two kids by 21
You're probably gonna die alone
Least that's what tradition told you
And it don't matter if you don't believe
Come Sunday morning, you best be there in the front row like you're supposed to.
Dandelion is an interesting detour, sounding more like a southern soul song Musgraves' voice is pure and enchanting, I listen and think what Chips Moman or Tommy Cogbill would do with that song at American studios. The more uptempo and driven Blowin Smoke has Musgraves feeling resigned to life working in a diner, idle gossip and big talk aren't enough to get her on that midnight bus up the highway. Follow Your Arrow is the tune that got Musgraves into trouble, causing a stir in the conservative circles of Nashville. It's a song built on the rebel tradition of of Waylon, Willie and Johnny not only a swipe at the conservative moralism of Nashville but also at those who criticise conservative values. It's a plea for freedom from judgement to live a life how you choose free from moral judgement.
If you save yourself for marriage you're a bore
If you don't save yourself for marriage
You're a whore-able person
If you won't have a drink
Then you're a prude
But they'll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one
If you can't lose the weight you're just fat
But if you lose too much
Then your on crack
You're damned if you do
And damned if you don't
So you might as well do
Just whatever you want
Same Trailer Different Park is bookended alongside albums by Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley that are edgy and prepared to challenge the Nashville orthodoxy and the music and the listener is better for it.