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Weekend newsletter

Weekend newsletter

Texan Kacey Musgraves tests country’s borders

More information

Kenny Chesney, Kacey Musgraves

• 5 p.m. Saturday

• Cowboys Stadium, Arlington

• $27-$252

• 800-745-3000; ticketmaster.com


Posted 11:22am on Thursday, May. 09, 2013

Kacey Musgraves doesn’t want your grandfather’s Nashville.

More specifically, the 24-year-old Mineola native, one of the country genre’s fast-rising stars, thinks the conservative attitudes that have long dogged Music City (see also: the Dixie Chicks’ downfall) are long overdue for an exit, stage right.

“If I can be part of bringing any open-mindedness to country, that would be great,” Musgraves says from a South Carolina tour stop. “Country does have a conservative edge to it, [but] it’s where [the genre] came from. There are new ideas and ... younger, more open-minded people listening. As time goes on, that’s going to cancel out a lot of the old ideas, hopefully.”

That 21st-century, big-tent mentality is the engine powering Musgraves’ phenomenal major-label debut, Same Trailer Different Park.

Her sparkling songcraft — Musgraves co-wrote all 12 tracks — coupled with a willingness to reach out and grab the third rail (same-sex love, marijuana legalization) has helped make the record one of 2013’s most talked about.

“It seems like every review I read, they have a different favorite, and that makes me happy because they’re all my favorites too, for different reasons,” Musgraves says.

In particular, lead single Merry Go ’Round, which deftly chronicles small-town ennui, or the right wing-baiting Follow Your Arrow (with its memorable chorus “Kiss lots of boys/Or kiss lots of girls/If that’s something you’re into”) feature gorgeous melodies blended with thought-provoking lyrics, a trait Musgraves honed over a decade spent as a songwriter-for-hire in Nashville’s trenches.

“I have the utmost respect for songwriters like Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, who had cuts on other people’s records before they were famous themselves,” Musgraves says. “So I think it solidifies [a career] and gets people familiar with your musical brain and helps pay the bills.”

Musgraves shares a similar trajectory with another famous East Texan: Miranda Lambert. Not only did both women log time on the now-canceled singing competition Nashville Star (Musgraves finished seventh on the fifth season in 2007), but they share a mentor in John DeFoore, who taught both artists the basics of playing guitar and writing killer songs.

It’s fitting that as Musgraves comes into her own, Lambert is also enjoying a bit of reflected glory: Lambert’s latest No. 1 single, Mama’s Broken Heart, was co-written by Musgraves.

The two Texans can probably also commiserate about the breakneck pace of life in the fast lane: “Within the last five months, I’ve gotten a little more to used to it,” Musgraves says.

Apart from promoting her debut LP, Musgraves is spending the summer on the road as part of Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes Nation” tour, which stops Saturday at Cowboys Stadium (she shares the bill with Eric Church and Denton’s Eli Young Band).

“It’s nuts,” Musgraves says of playing Cowboys Stadium. “Aside from the fact that it’s huge, my entire family and all my high school friends, they’re all going to be there.”

The singer-songwriter should get adjusted to rooms of such size, as it’s likely she’s only going to keep finding herself in them — if not for concerts, then almost certainly awards shows. Her goal — to methodically rewire country music for a new generation — is laudable, particularly as Nashville loses legends like George Jones. They don’t make ’em like they used to, but for Musgraves, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think there’s still greatness like that around, but I don’t think it’s the norm,” she says. “For the most part, I think that mentality has passed. [Today’s country artists] just want a hit as fast as they can have it, [and] once that’s over, people are on to the next thing. It is frustrating. I don’t listen to music thinking, ‘Oh, that sounds like a hit’ or ‘This is popular now.’ Good music is good music.”

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