The Grammy-winning songwriter returns with 'Pageant Material' on June 23.
Kacey Musgrave broke out in 2013 with her excellent album Same Trailer, Different Park—not only was it one of the best country albums of the year, full of gorgeous country-folk tunes anchored by Musgraves’ flawless voice, but it would go on to win two Grammys, including Best Country Album.
Musgraves is back next month with her anticipated follow-up, Pageant Material. So EW caught up with the “Biscuits” singer to get the scoop on her musical influences, whether or not she lived up to the album’s title, and how she’s honoring her late grandmother’s life in her songs.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What were your main influences for this record? Can you tell us a bit about the writing/recording process?
Kacey Musgraves: Pageant Material was really inspired by a lot of the classic records and artists I love: Glen Campbell, Jim Croce, Bobbie Gentry, Marty Robbins, Roger Miller, Charley Pride. Records that set an even tone throughout are ones that I usually gravitate towards. So recording this record was really fun and exciting for me because I knew exactly what I wanted to go for. Consistently touring and playing with my great band has made me a better singer and player and has helped me define my vision. So there was less guess work this time around.
You recorded most of this album live, which is a departure from how you did Same Trailer, Different Park. What was the motivation in that switch?
Most of the records I know and love were recorded in a live manner. When you go hear a band play a live show you’re experiencing live energy and I wanted to capture that spirit. It comes across differently. We recorded most everything in a big circle in one of my favorite old studios on the planet—historic RCA Studio A in Nashville. That lent itself to the record having that concise feel that we wanted. Then we added a 10-piece string section later. We dressed the space with my signature neon cacti and serapes and everybody wore plastic crowns—the musicians were made up of a mix of my band and some of my other all-time favorite musical personalities. It was important for me to implement how I sound on the road into this project.
Any significance to the album title?
“Pageant Material” is a satirical song poking fun of myself for being a real human. After writing [it] I could instantly see this hazy, slightly off-kilter, retro pageant world. I’m a super visual person and I thought not only that it was a great song but that it would make for great aesthetic, especially because I come from the South.
My little sister, Kelly Christine Sutton—a wonderful photographer in Dallas—did the album cover and design.
You reunited with Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark on this album—what makes your collaborations so special?
I’ve been really blessed to find a unique group of people to create with. Most of them wrote everything on the last record with me and I just love our songs so much that I didn’t want to fix what wasn’t broken! One of the things I really love about working with these people is how much we laugh! We’re constantly laughing our assess off so it always makes for a light-hearted atmosphere. Luke and Shane each bring something different to the table as producers, as well—they know my vision but they aren’t afraid to challenge it. Before the record, I went with a lot of the writers down to Texas and we wrote for several days out in the middle nowhere—we made some amazing memories and wrote most of the record there.
Is there one track you’re most excited for people to hear?
I’m really excited for people to hear the song “This Town.” It was complete serendipity that I got to use a recording of my late grandmother’s voice that I found for the intro of that song. I also really love “Family Is Family” and “Late to the Party.”
What were some of the biggest highlights following Same Trailer, Different Park‘s massive success? Any amazing splurges or memorable interactions with other musicians who said they loved your music?
I’ve really had a couple unbelievable years following Same Trailer. I’ve gotten to see and do more than I ever imagined. A major career highlight for me last summer was touring with Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss, and then doing a complete 180 and touring with Katy Perry. Taping Austin City Limits was great, headlining in Europe and the UK where the fans are unreal was incredible.
Most of my personal highlights have come from times I get to include my family in what I’m doing. I’ve taken every single member of my family as my date on the red carpet! As far as splurging goes—one thing I’m really proud of is having the opportunity to own my childhood home and 38 acres down in Texas. It was put up for sale and I couldn’t bear to see it out of our family’s hands. It’s a peaceful retreat and will be a good place to write.
Pageant Material Track Listing:
1. High Time
2. Dime Store Cowgirl
3. Late To The Party
4. Pageant Material
5. This Town
7. Somebody To Love
9. Die Fun
10. Family Is Family
11. Good Ol’ Boys Club
12. Cup Of Tea