If you go searching for sharp, stabbing statements from Kacey Musgraves on Pageant Material you will miss the sweet tones and sentiments that are at the heart of her second studio album. With exceptions, gone is the small-town malaise, replaced by the kind of songs a girl in love writes and records. Some of the songs are songs Taylor Swift could have written if she had grown up middle class with a saltier circle of friends and family. “Die Fun” is one example. The lilting ballad is performed over an acoustic guitar for 30 seconds before a thin arrangement surrounds her. The song asks for the singer to carry it, and Kacey is more than capable of selling her message about living in the moment. “Somebody To Love” and “Late To The Party” are two more honest love songs that separate Pageant Material from Same Trailer, Different Park.
Kacey Musgraves says her feelings toward her hometown are all love, but the vague discomfort she reveals in songs like “This Town” and “Family Is Family” give the impression hers is a love/hate relationship. It could be the tone of her voice or an extension of how she represents herself. She isn’t afraid of the truth, even when it comes to herself. There are statements: “Biscuits” and “Good Ol’ Boys Club” find her on a soapbox, but neither is quite the refreshing look at society “Follow Your Arrow” was and is. Kacey Musgraves is a singer willing to take risks, and at this point the next risk would be to shock fans by releasing a song like the vulnerable “Late To The Party” to radio. In addition to including a song about family, Kacey’s late grandmother makes an appearance, telling a story about a drug-fueled hospital mishap. The singer’s sister also helped with the project, as she took the picture that covers the album. As far as following up Same Trailer, Different Park, Kacey Musgraves has pulled a smart move by reinventing herself and not trying to duplicate the first album.