September 10, 2012
A delicious, absorbing slice of country storytelling, flavored with a strong dose of everyday realism.
While Musgraves has been relatively quiet on the music front in days since her 2007 seventh-place finish on Nashville Star, she has tided fans over with projects such as an excellent collaboration with the Josh Abbott band, while also displaying her ample songwriting chops with standout cuts on recent albums by Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride. “Merry Go Round” marks her first official solo radio release, with an album to follow later this year.
The quiet, banjo-driven arrangement supplies a beautiful, comforting backdrop to an astute lyric which contrasts idealistic personal and societal expectations with the way life actually turns out. The course of one’s life is metaphorically described as “this broken merry go round.” People are expected to settle down, raise a family, ”be there in the front row like you’re s’posed to” at church every Sunday morning, only to stumble and struggle in daily battles with hardship, temptation, and personal demons. Anchored by an evocative melody and an authentic, lived-in vocal rendering on Musgraves part, “Merry Go Round” is a song that boasts a strong, tangible connection to the realities people face everyday – a country music ideal that seems to have been mostly abandoned by the mainstream.
While I have a hard time believing this song is likely to find a home on country radio, it’s certainly well worth a listen. If such a finely polished, understative gem as this is at all indicative of the quality of Musgraves forthcoming debut album, we could be in for quite a treat.