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In the opening lines to Kacey Musgraves’s fifth record, she sings, “It’s high time to slow my roll / let the grass just grow / and lean way back.”
It’s a relaxed, summery throwback to classic country, with strings and a bit of a Tex-Mex vibe. It’s also an apt tone (and attitude) setter. Pageant Material never quite reaches the heights that 2013’s Same Trailer Different Park did, mainly because it eschews the pomp and moxie that made Musgraves so initially exciting, reaching instead for a more grown-up sound.
It works slightly more than half the time. Dime Store Cowgirl is a sweet ode to her roots Good Ol’ Boys Club takes aim at patriarchy in the music industry Die Fun is a quiet YOLO moment, urging listeners to “love hard, live fast.” But only the (mostly) cheesy Biscuits finds Musgraves up to her old cheeky, clever tricks. She sounds older and smarter, but a bit unsure of which way to take that experience.
Top track: Die Fun