Single Review: Kacey Musgraves, “Keep it to Yourself”

Kacey Musgraves Keep-It-to-YourselfThe conflict of whether or not to reconnect with an ex-lover can be the perfect fodder for a great country song. Just ask Lee Ann Womack.

Musgraves’ narrator faces such a choice on her stellar new single “Keep it to Yourself,” but in this instance she sticks with her better judgment. Should her ex find those old feelings returning, she offers the advice found in the song’s title:  “Keep it to yourself.” The hook is simple and direct, yet disarmingly effective.

Much has already been written about Kacey Musgraves’ gifts as a lyricist, and while such are definitely evident on “Keep it to Yourself,” the song is particularly noteworthy as a display of her power over a melody. The low, somber notes convey a weary, angst-ridden feeling in the opening verse before rising to the gentle plea of the chorus.

Even more impressive is the way the melody and performance manage to convey the intangible, allowing the listener read between the lyrics. The pleading tone in Musgraves voice suggests that she is begging her ex not to call her perhaps because she’s afraid that she just might not be able to muster the strength to say no the next time.

“Keep it to Yourself” is fresh in its approach, yet classic in theme and delivery. It comes across as moving and sincere, but not cloying or contrived. The gentle arrangement and strains of steel guitar enhance the story without interrupting it, while Musgraves’ vocal conveys deep vulnerability without veering into melodrama.

“Keep it to Yourself” is top-notch country storytelling through and through – an understated gem of a performance that represents much of what we wish mainstream country music could still be in 2014.

Written by Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, and Luke Laird

Grade: A

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11 Comments

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11 Responses to Single Review: Kacey Musgraves, “Keep it to Yourself”

  1. CraigR.No Gravatar

    Excellent song and another excellent review Ben!

  2. ADJNo Gravatar

    Probably my favorite Kacey song (Stupid is another). Great review. :)

  3. TravisNo Gravatar

    I am in love with Kacey! Great song!

  4. VickiNo Gravatar

    I totally agree! Let’s see. I listened to Kacey on a 7 hour trip recently and just love what she can do with a song in lyrics, music, and her voice. She knows what she is writing about and what the person should be feeling and expresses it perfectly in her singing.

  5. JasonNo Gravatar

    Too bad country radio won’t play the song.

  6. GloriaNo Gravatar

    Why had country radio rather play Dan+Shay’s annoying song and not this one??
    I love this song! I’ve liked all of her songs so far!

  7. CountryKnightNo Gravatar

    Eh, it is a decent song. I will give it a C minus.

    I have heard the theme before.

    If I never hear it on the radio, this country boy will survive.

  8. SRMNo Gravatar

    I’m actually reasonably optimistic about this one’s radio potential. As “Need You Now” and “Last Call” have proved, country radio has a sweet spot for this type of song. Plus, Musgraves has won a whole host of awards lately, and I’m thinking that’ll make programmers a little more comfortable giving her heavy rotation.

    Here’s hoping, at least.

  9. SusanK.No Gravatar

    I love this song – probably my favorite on the album. It’s a little less cerebral and more heartfelt than the others. I don’t like songs that try to be too clever – which is my only bone to pick with the rest of the record.

  10. StaceyNo Gravatar

    My favorite song on the album. :)