Writing, mastering, and releasing a full-length debut album is naturally going to lead to a healthy learning curve.
Few people can expect to release an instant classic on first request, and an artist’s first release is usually a great opportunity to show off what they can become later. Tweaking is key, and since the important factor in a start is potential, it’s vital to carve out a niche that can be perfected with all subsequent releases.
At this point, an artist is familiar with the recording process, the editing ordeals, and the circus of marketing, so theoretically the whirlwind that is the music industry has no significant bearing on the production of the album.
The second release is where the real work begins, and the quest to add something truly great to an artist’s discography can often be completed with the second album, though it’s a feat that’s undeniably difficult to pull off. .
From ska to synthwave, the striking gold on the second album knows no genre. Artists are always looking to improve on their previous work, and while some fall at the first hurdle, others fly past the second.
Kacey Musgraves is a beloved performer in the Nashville country scene, and one that will appeal to both happy, casual fans and mustache-twirling country hicks.
Musgraves’ discography is a delight back and forth, but sandwiched between two superb original releases – Same Trailer Different Park and Golden Hour respectively – is Pageant Material. This 2015 release features some of Musgraves’ most iconic tracks, further cementing her as country music royalty.
Whether it’s the uplifting but honest Cookies or the fun, self-reflective titular song, Kacey isn’t afraid to show her flaws and frequently uses them to conjure up some of the most relevant country songs of recent years.
Nominated for Album of the Year at the CMAs and Best Country Album at the 58th Grammy Awards (losing to Chris Stapleton’s superb Traveler in the latter), it hasn’t lacked critical acclaim. The follow-up, Golden Hour, would take on the same Grammy gong some three years later, but while Golden Hour was fantastic on its own, Pageant Material felt much more honest and satirical, resulting in an overall more interesting release.
Same Trailer Different Park was a stellar first introduction, Pageant Material was a perfect second impression.