I left Shepherd’s Bush Empire with two principle thoughts tonight. The first is that, judging by the slight shift in crowd demographic, C2C Festival has probably done Kacey Musgraves’ UK popularity a world of good. She played here in October and it was pretty full, but tonight it feels packed out. The second is that, with a splash more sparkle, she could actually be the next Dolly Parton.
Why does she need to be the next anyone I hear you ask, surely she’s all about following your own arrow and what not? Well, I’m all for individuality but in this case it really does feel like that’s how she’s being marketed. The similarities are pretty easy to grasp too – catchy songs with a solid meaning like the aforementioned Follow Your Arrow, packaged up with gimmicky neon cacti and a wild west themed backdrop reminiscent of somewhere in Texas that doesn’t really exist. Throw in a rhinestone encrusted guitar and a blonde wig and she’s pretty much there. She even performs a Dolly number, with Here You Come Again thrown in mid set.
Not that any of this should be translated as negativity. I love Dolly Parton and she’s probably a far better role model than any of the many country pop artists who have tried and failed to break the UK in recent years. They also share the authenticity of writing their own songs and carrying positive messages in their work, with the likes of Merry Go ‘Round and Keep It To Yourself played alongside the more tongue in cheek numbers like The Trailer Song and My House.
Regardless of whether you agree with my Dolly comparisons, there can be no question that there is a slick machine of press and publicity driving the Kacey Musgraves machine. Here’s hoping it doesn’t de-rail and she finds the kind of long term UK success others have tried and failed to achieve.