Kacey Musgraves was not at all on my musical radar when I stumbled upon her set at the 2016 Pilgrimage Festival. While I enjoyed listening and was entertained by her showmanship, I wasn’t impressed enough to seek out her catalog. Then came her 2018 LP, Golden Hour, and I was drawn in like a moth to a flame. Co-produced by my favorite pop genius Daniel Tashian, I was astounded by how much her smooth pop sound reminded me of Daniel’s band, The Silver Seas. I simply couldn’t get enough of these magnificent songs, and Kacey’s singing was delightful, although it sounded a little studio tweaked.
The record’s huge success was so self-satisfying in that it was like one of my favorite bands had finally achieved the success that they were long overdue. All it took was for Tashian (and his co-producer Ian Fitchuk) to collaborate with Kacey. Combining their songwriting and studio skills with her talent and notoriety took the record to the top, and it deservedly so won both a CMA and a Grammy for Album of the Year.
Tickets for Kacey’s Ryman run went on sale way back in July, and the initial two shows quickly turned into four. By the time February and the awards had come around, hers were the priciest tickets in town. However, with only three non-Christmas LPs under her belt, I figured one show would be enough for these ears in that there likely wouldn’t be much change in her nightly set list. I was proven right except for there being a different guest star for each of the first three nights.
On a musical scale, the show was simply magnificent. The band executed to perfection and Kacey handled her vocals flawlessly. The other thing that soon became obvious was the star power that this young woman has. She carried herself so effortlessly and carried a confidence that well exceeded her years. There was no doubt in my mind that I was witnessing an artist whose first name “Kacey” would someday have the same impact as just a “Dolly” or a “Cher.”
Kacey had the audience in her complete grasp and the room full of about 70% ladies seemed to know and sing along with every word. And, it sounded just so right, a subtle backdrop as if they were a part of the show as a hired chorus.
To my personal delight, we heard the entire Golden Hour record which only left room for a few other catalog cuts. After night one’s guest appearance by Paramore’s Hayley Williams, the suspense was there on this second night. Hearing Kacey start into Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” wasn’t that much of a surprise since she’s done it before, including the Pilgrimage set I had seen. However, when CeeLo Green took the stage to join her, the entire room went crazy. (Night three would feature Brooks & Dunn as guests.)
Was there anything about Kacey’s show that I didn’t like? Well, while I knew that Kacey could be a little feisty, I thought that she was a bit snarkier than I cared for, especially in the sanctity of the Mother Church. Asking us to all give her the finger and ending my favorite song with a “golden shower” ad lib were probably things that Dolly wouldn’t have done.
But, I’m over it and honored to have seen what may be the last time she plays a venue as small as the Ryman since I’m sure that’s she’s arena bound. It will be quite interesting to see where she goes from here musically. Will she continue in the Tashian/Fitchuk pop vein or go back to her more country roots? The stripped-down acoustic segment that she and the band did mid-set reminded us all of her country core. If I had my say, it might be a good next career move to go back to where she started. But, of course for one record only before bringing back Daniel and Ian!
- Slow Burn
- Wonder Woman
- Lonely Weekend
- Happy & Sad
- Merry Go ‘Round
- High Time (with Are You Sure intro)
- Golden Hour
- Die Fun
- Oh, What a World
- Family is Family
- Love is a Wild Thing
- Velvet Elvis
- Space Cowboy
- Crazy (with CeeLo Green)
- Follow Your Arrow
- High Horse
Kacey Musgraves – Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
with The Crispy Boys:
Kyle Ryan–Guitars and Banjo
“Smokin’” Brett Resnick–Pedal Steel Guitar
Nathaniel Smith–Cello, Keyboard and Guitar
Adam Keafer– Bass
Kai Welch–Guitar and Keyboards
Scott Quintana– Drums and Percussion
and on backing vocals: