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Her debut album, Same Trailer, Different Park, included the hits "Follow Your Arrow" and "Merry Go 'Round". Her vocals are honest and effortless; Musgraves quickly made it clear that she's not an oversinger, but instead a killer songwriter. Alongside co-writers Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark and Luke Laird, Musgraves produced an album so relatable that it's been in my stereo since its release date in March 2013. Lyrics like "If you save yourself for marriage you're a bore / if you don't save yourself for marriage you're a whore-able person" had listeners hooked from track one.
This time around, Musgraves upped the ante. Tracks like "Dime Store Cowgirl", "Pageant Material", and "Family is Family" draw on her small-town past. The title track is an anomaly of sorts where Musgraves tells listeners just why she's not considered 'pageant material'. She sings:
"I ain't pageant material /
I'm always higher than my hair /
And it ain't that I don't care about world peace /
But I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage /
I ain't exactly Ms. Congenial /
Sometimes I talk before I think, I try to fake it but I can't /
I'd rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain't"
Musgraves' music possesses an honest quality that's clearly lacking in a lot of the hits we hear coming out of Nashville today. In a recent interview with Fader, she was quoted saying, "The more country that my music gets, the less it fits into the country world today. It's almost like there needs to be two genres, modern country and...country?" At its core, Pageant Material is about how you can never quite escape small-town struggles with family, neighbors, and old flames no matter how big a break you get.