Kacey Musgraves says Pageant Material goes for a "hazy Western feel."

Kacey Musgraves says Pageant Material goes for a "hazy Western feel."

Fire up Kacey Musgraves' brand-new album, Pageant Material, and the first track immediately beckons you to kick back.

In the opening line of "High Time," Musgraves stretches out the word "high" over 10 notes before a smooth Western orchestra begins to swell. References to slowing down and letting the grass grow signal the thoughtful 26-year-old artist's attempt to set a mood more laid-back than that of her Grammy-winning 2013 debut, Same Trailer Different Park.

What's notable about Musgraves' new record is that it sustains the reflective mood until the end, even with a wide range of styles and subject matter in play. According to the singer-songwriter, who called us from a tour bus somewhere in Colorado last week, she took a co-producer role on Pageant Material all the way down to ordering songs for the desired flow.

Kacey Musgraves' album Pageant Material (Mercury Nashville) is available June 23.

Kacey Musgraves' album Pageant Material (Mercury Nashville) is available June 23.

"I can get obsessed with details like that, but they really matter," says the pride of Golden, Texas. "Opening with 'High Time' was a good way to set a tone, and then it's little hills up and down throughout the record."

She wanted the entire work to have a "hazy Western feel to it."

The Dolly-Parton-worthy wisdom of the album's first single, "Biscuits," provides evidence of Musgraves' peaceful, nonjudgmental approach to living, as does "Cup of Tea." Both could be considered thematic follow-ups to the earlier hit "Follow Your Arrow."

Those self-love singalongs bring out the kitschy, plain-spoken side of Musgraves, but other songs such as the casual love letter "Late to the Party" show a tauter, larger-picture lyricist.

"It was important to me to have reflective songs on the record to balance out ones that were more pointed," she says. She assembled longtime collaborators like Shane McAnally, Luke Laird and Brandy Clark to help achieve that balance.

"I feel like I'm just in my own little corner, doing my thing."

Pageant Material's recording sessions amounted to everything for Musgraves. Rather than assemble the tracks part by part, she and her band recorded live with other handpicked musicians in order to capture a sound more urgent and authentic.

"A lot of the Nashville records are done very quickly - they play two or three takes and that's your track," she says. "I didn't want this to be that way, so all the musicians were given the songs well ahead of time and lived with them. We weren't scrambling.

"We recorded live in a big circle, which is how so many old records I love were recorded."

Musgraves drew from several musical cues in creating her latest sounds, from the muscular instrumentation and clever wordplay of old Glen Campbell and Roger Miller albums to the party vibes of authentic mariachi music and Ventures-era surf rock.

The musical through-line on the new album that Musgraves says keeps it traditionally country? The pedal steel playing of Nashville veteran Paul Franklin.

"He's a monster," she says. "He nails that traditional pedal steel - I couldn't get enough of it. But the pedal steel is always the glue for me."

Musical heroes aside, Musgraves continues to draw from both the beauty and the ugliness of small-town life on her new songs. In "This Town," she rails against unnecessary gossip and pettiness, and "Family Is Family" tackles the universal experience of loving someone while not necessarily "getting" them. Pageant Material's title track was inspired by Musgraves' early failed shot at her hometown's "Little Miss Tater Tot" title.

Whether bitter, sweet or both, the memories from Musgraves' Piney Woods childhood always find their way into her tunes, and she definitely hears about it from those who know her best.

"My family members always have an opinion about what I'm doing," she says with a chuckle. "But that's par for the course."

Make no mistake, though - the now world-weary Musgraves feels a constant longing for the simplicity and unconditional love of home. She communicates as much in the standout track "Dimestore Cowgirl," which ends its chorus with the line, "I still call my hometown home."

Truth is, Musgraves has parlayed her East Texas upbringing into some of the most winning and complex tunes to come from the country world in years. And as she continues to tour the world, she finds more commonalities and understanding in people than differences.

"At our shows everywhere you'll see young chicks with their parents and even grandparents singing along," she says. "We try to create this electric Western world to step into for a while.

"Lots of rhinestones."

As for her place in the ever-expanding world of country music, Musgraves would rather not think too much about what's unjustifiably popular and what's criminally underrepresented.

"I just like seeing artists who are unique and have something to say do well," she says. "But it's not necessarily important what I think about the state of country music.

"I feel like I'm just in my own little corner, doing my thing."

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