She's 24. She's low-key. She's from Sulphur Springs, Texas. She used to yodel. She sings about regular women and their regular concerns and feelings, and yet, in its own quiet, catchy way, something about her work feels utterly revolutionary. Maybe it's that the songs on Same Trailer Different Park feel notably un-dumbed down (critic Ann Powers says the record "moves like a novel"), or maybe it's that they treat the interior lives of women in stifling podunk towns with the kind of care and nuance (and humor) that is rare in pop music period, much less the likes of radio-aiming modern pop-country. And yet, it's catching on.
In "Merry Go 'Round," which has sold some 500,000 downloads and hit No. 10, Musgraves muses over a pluck, "Mary, Mary quite contrary/ We get bored so we get married/ Just like dust we settle in this town." And in spite of the utter drag of that setting, her attitude is more wistful than wary.
Musgraves is also pretty chill about her crowning as the next big thing in country music, and tells USA Today that her favorite kind of compliment is from people who tell her they don't like country music, but they like her.
Pop desperately needs women artists like Musgraves — women who can tell the stories of their regular sisters and nieces and aunts and uncles and boyfriends in optimistic but realistic terms. Musgraves writes about and for people who've learned to fit their dreams into recession-sized moving boxes; who gain comfort from their family traditions but sometimes feel them cutting off breath like the top button on a stiff collar; who find their pleasures and pains not in the excesses promoted by Hollywood or Nashvegas, but in jokes shared during a work break at the Waffle House, or nights of glory at the local karaoke bar. Pop needs this dose of the everyday again, and Musgraves, with her unpretentious voice — which makes you utterly trust her and her commitment to bringing complicated emotions into the light — is bringing it.
The record is out March 19, and coincides with an appearance on NBC's Today Show.