It’s not that I had heard the songs too much, but they play to a particularly appealing side of the Texan’s persona: the sober, honest young woman who doesn’t mind telling the town busybody to buzz off. The session offered a Musgraves who works a phrase and sings a gorgeous line even without a deceptively cute aphorism such as “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.”
On “Die Fun,” she floats the line “Do we really have to grow up? If we never do, then so what?” with unanticipated beauty. That honesty we came to love in her first hits was put to the service of a forlorn meditation on life passing by and trying not to miss it.
One thing we have missed in the Bluegrass is a live performance from Musgraves, save for a show at Eastern Kentucky University after her debut album, “Same Trailer Different Park,” was released in 2013. But Friday night, she will be on stage at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, playing second only to Eric Church on the opening day of the Red, White & Boom Festival.
Once Church takes the stage, Boom is dude festival, with nine consecutive male artists — or 10, considering the duo Florida Georgia Line. But before that, the fest opens with a trio of country music’s more intriguing and assertive ladies.
Preceding Musgraves will be Cam, who quickly became “Grammy Award nominee Cam” with her debut single, “Burning House,” an emotional ballad that almost makes you forget that it’s a tune in which the singer imagines her ex dying in a house fire. It also might make you forget that Cam is one sassy lady, whose other hits include “My Mistake,” a damn-the-consequences glass-raiser, and “Country Ain’t Never Been Pretty,” something of a brave shot inside an industry that Cam is working to be a part of.
To its credit, in assembling the Boom lineup, organizers didn’t select a cast of Barbie look-alikes with twangs. Boom finds Cam transitioning from a Dierks Bentley opener this summer to hitting the road as a headliner come fall.
It is somewhat appropriate that Red, White & Boom will open its Labor Day weekend event with Maren Morris, who has hit the country music market this summer with some great driving anthems, including the inventive country name check “My Church,” which couches a love for Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, et al in a gospel setting. In the song’s road-trip video, it was only somewhat surprising that her next single was a tribute to one of the great cars of the 20th century: “’80s Mercedes.”
Surprising because this is, after all, country music. But leave it to a woman to come up with a more interesting ride than a boring ol’ pickup truck.