- Views & Opinions
Kacey Musgraves’ unexpected Grammys last year for best country album and best country song were no fluke, and this album proves it. Ignoring contemporary standards for commercial country music, Pageant Material is a beautiful follow-up that will soothe with its melodies and delight with its simple, direct lyrics. Lead single “Biscuits” offers a tongue-and-cheek chorus line, “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.”
Elsewhere, “Dime Store Cowgirl” relates Musgraves’ reflections on her rising fame, sharing experiences where she “slept in a room with the ghost of Gram Parsons” and “had my picture made with Willie Nelson.” On the title song she concludes, “I ain’t pageant material / I’m always higher than my hair / and it ain’t that I don’t care about world peace / but I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage.” Humor, reality and beautiful melodies. Maybe Musgraves should save space for another Grammy.
Neil Young and the Promise of the Real :: ‘The Monsanto Years’
Backed by Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah of Promise of the Real, The Monsanto Years sounds much like many of Neil Young’s best-loved albums with Crazy Horse. At age 69, the legendary singer-songwriter is still angry about injustices in the world, with attacks on chemical giant Monsanto and its genetically modified foods along with other corporations like Starbucks and Wal-mart. Not a happy message, but the heavy rock has the melodic crunch long-term fans of Neil Young will love. Neil Young and the Promise of the Real will close Summerfest 2015 as Marcus Amphitheater headliners on July 5.
Leon Bridges :: ‘Coming Home’
For those who revere the 1960s soul of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Leon Bridges is a name to know. His debut album recreates the sound of an era that occurred more than 20 years before he was born. If there is a downside to this immaculately constructed record, it’s that it almost sounds too measured and exacting. Bridges never cuts loose on his smooth soul tracks, though he gets closest when picking up the tempo on the danceable “Flowers” and the mellow sway of “Twistin’ & Groovin’.”
Miguel :: ‘Wildheart’
Fans who only know Miguel for his Grammy-winning R&B single “Adorn” may have the impression he’s this decade’s R. Kelly-type romantic balladeer, albeit a little cleaner. Miguel’s actual albums reveal a broader palette of styles and influences. If anything, he’s more like idiosyncratic artists like Prince. Wildheart is a fascinating, expansive exploration in which Miguel claims that he is, “Too proper for the black kids, too black for the Mexicans.” However, it frequently threatens to drift off into a gauzy, psychedelic haze. The closing track “face the sun,” featuring a trademark Lenny Kravitz guitar solo, is a glorious end to this introverted, intricate album.