Kacey Musgraves – Everywoman
Texan’s taping, country and folk to disco, unites ACL
By Abby Johnston,
10:30AM, Thu. Jun. 7, 2018
Four years had passed since Kacey Musgraves first stood before Austin City Limits cameras. As she noted at the top of her taping on Wednesday evening for PBS’ musical flagship, a lot had changed. A full house at the Moody Theater reflected the East Texas native’s evolution.
The blue hair and boots crowd represented strongly, holdover from the singer’s days as a rising country music star who dealt in cutesy if pointedly freewheeling cuts like “Follow Your Arrow” from 2013 debut Same Trailer Different Park, which no one in the crowd could resist mouthing along to toward the end of Musgraves’ 90-minute set. The fashionably tattooed set clad in vintage prints also showed and likely had no idea that the synth heavy jam the Golden native snuck in during a three-song encore covered Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon.” Same-sex couples, some clad in Pride month rainbow garb, kissed during the tender moments of “Love is a Wild Thing” from the soon-to-be 30-year-old’s recent fourth album, Golden Hour, whose songs dominated the set list.
And all of them, at Musgraves’ request, appeared ready to “get a little weird . . . cross a few lines.”
Taking the stage with a six-man band, each of them dressed in Johnny Cash black, the front woman with her long black hair teased into a bouffant à la June Carter looked like the princess of Nashville, her home for the past five years. She began strumming the warm chord progression of introspective stunner “Slow Burn,” then immediately pivoted to the dreamy “Butterflies.” She looked poised, Princess Di-esque.
At first, it felt a far cry from Musgraves’ typical chatty, rhinestone-covered live show. That’s when the bedazzled saddle hanging from the ceiling began to throw light. The talent then launched the first in a series of musings replete with f-bombs.
Some things never change.
And yet, the shift occurring in the music has strengthened her performances noticeably. Golden Hour stretches the songwriting boundaries of her repertoire into folk rock and even disco, which only further engages the musicianship of both Musgraves and her incredible band. Knowing they couldn’t recreate the complex layering of “Lonely Weekend,” pedal steel filled in the gaps for a lovely rendition on Wednesday. And when the show delved back to country, like on Pageant Material’s “Family is Family,” the band got tighter – playing in the round and trading banjo, cello, and double bass licks.
All of it brought together a diverse crowd. As the band launched into closer “High Horse,” that impossible fusion of country and disco that could very well be this year’s summer hit, the entire room lept to its feet, twisting and turning. At that moment, they knew what their host has known all along: Kacey Musgraves is for everyone.