Photographs by Ray Williams.
“Can’t separate the salt from the sugar” sings Kacey Musgraves on the foot stomping “Stupid,” a rousing crowd pleaser. The sold out stop at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall is another notch in the country singer-songwriter’s upward trend since her breakout debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, 2 years ago. The award-winning Musgraves has blazed a path all her own fusing country with whip-smart songwriting rivaling the universal style of her pop contemporary, Swift.
Strolling out on stage in a form fitting mini-skirt and crop-top accented with fringe, Musgraves’ ode to country’s past comes with a wink to the present. Neon cacti, plastic flamingos and armadillos to her band’s light-up jackets play on the usual Opry stereotype of country still engrained in our collective. minds
The sweet country twang of “I Miss You,” cleverly disguises the pop-sensibility of Musgraves’ songwriting. But Kacey is less about pop appeal than simply a woman in love with music. Singing Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” an unexpected cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs,” featuring male backing vocals captured Kacey’s wit and charm along with a mash-up of Musgraves’ own “Step Off” into Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” were among the highlights. Ballad “Back on the Map” was given a rocky facelift, while fan favourite “Follow Your Arrow,” whose queer reference has earned Kacey mainstream appeal as a forward thinking artist, captured Musgraves at her finest.
Kacey’s sour tongue and sassy remarks like Canadian Customs taking all their fruits; “I think that Bitch just needed to go grocery shopping,” offered freshing grit and colour to her soft demeanor. Touring in anticipation of her forthcoming sophomore album, Kacey is at home in her own skin. She may have crossover appeal but Musgraves appears more interested in the music and having a good time than being another Swift or Shania. A welcome breath of fresh air on a crisp Spring evening.