In an era when mainstream country music has more in common with arena rock than it does honky-tonk – incorporating hip-hop beats, touring deejays and scorching guitar solos straight out ’80s hair metal – an artist like singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves, in her fringed gingham dresses and light-up cowboy boots singing songs like “Biscuits,” might seem like the odd woman out.
No wonder Nashville has painted her combination of traditional instrumentation and imagery and forward-thinking lyrical perspective as a sign of rebellion. Yet Loretta Lynn bucked tradition in her youth, too ... and then became country royalty.
“Everybody is trying not to be country. I’m almost the opposite,” Musgraves says. “The more country I get, the less I fit into the country world.”
Yet Musgraves, 27, was named Best New Artist by the Country Music Association in 2013, and her first major label album, “Same Trailer Different Park” garnered two 2014 Grammys (Best Country Album and Best Country Song) and an Academy of Country Music Award for Album of the Year. Still, country radio didn’t want to play her single “Biscuits” when her stellar follow-up, “Pageant Material,” was released last year.
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Radio may elude her, but she’s become somewhat of a Nashville darling. She speaks and sings her mind and addresses contemporary reality with a perspective indicative of her generation. The greats have taken notice, too. She’ll open for George Strait in Las Vegas later this year, and Willie Nelson appears on a hidden track on “Pageant Material.”
She’ll spend this weekend in Charlotte, playing Friday and Saturday at Amos’ and appearing at Lunchbox Records Saturday afternoon for a Record Store Day autograph signing.
“The people who have broken through by being themselves made the standard for country music about real life,” says Musgraves of artists like Dolly Parton, Strait, Lynn and Nelson. “You can tell the difference when someone is coming at it from wanting fame and money and following trends. All that stuff comes based on you being authentic and real, and if you start that way from the beginning there’s a freedom in being yourself. I follow what makes me feel good. The rest is icing on the cake.”
Part of that icing is the fashion and imagery that come along with creating her show.
“With the Kacey Musgraves Country & Western Rhinestone Revue I wanted to evoke feelings of old entertainment. We do satirical songs and funny bits based on pop culture and life. It’s also got rhinestones,” she says with a laugh. “It’s almost like a Western show or a school talent show. It has a bit of a kitschy-ness to it.”
It reflects the theme of her latest album.
“I’ve always loved a theme or creating a world. Really vibing it out and going the extra mile to make people feel something. When you come to our shows, you feel that. I pride myself on digging up the old country styles.”
She may be a small-town Texas girl who started out singing with a kids group called the Buckaroos, loves Western swing, and has her own line of cowboy boots, but there’s more to Musgraves than country. She’s toured with Katy Perry, appears on Miguel’s remix single “Waves,” and talks about writing a surf rock album.
“I want to be free to create whatever comes out. Most of it happens to be really country. I love different kinds of music. I feel like I’ve done a good job of bouncing around,” she says. “I admire someone like Dolly. She made country records but she became bigger than one genre.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St.
Details: 704-377-6847; www.amossouthend.com.