I’m such a sucker for a good country song. Like seriously, and I don’t care what that does to my pop-punk, rock-n-roll credibility. If it’s not from the heart, it’s not for these ears, and sometimes nothing’s got more heart than a good country tune.

Enter Kacey Musgraves, who is winning over radio waves and critics and iTunes and girls like me, or however you measure music success these days. She’s the one behind this beautiful song, “Merry Go’ Round,” this sad-town tale of the broken young girl. The first time I heard it, on a static-strewn radio station coming back from Lancaster, I knew I had to hear it again.

I could see why someone would put Musgraves in that slightly gimmicky category of a lot of other new female country singers, the kind who make no apologies for their cavalcade of redneck references and get them brandished on merch and tweeted by tweens. In most scenarios and songs, that’s not my cup of tea. But with Musgraves, especially on “Merry Go’ Round,” I hear the sadness in her voice more than I hear any act. I can feel the dust on the roads and the chipped paint on the trailer siding, and I can’t help but sing along to the quite brilliantly crafted chorus. Exploring the rest of her songs, I find them incredibly honest and far more introspective than you’d expect, and the references aren’t there for decoration so much as they’re reflecting her reality.

(Also: Kacey plays not just guitar but banjo, as I saw in this performance. And to the many who’ve picked up the four-stringed step-child of string instruments because of bands like Mumford and Sons, it was definitely a backwoods redneck country thing first, so reconcile that with progressive ways.)

“We think the first time’s good enough.
So, we hold on to high school love.
Sayin’ we won’t end up like our parents.

Tiny little boxes in a row.
Ain’t what you want, it’s what you know.
Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’.
Same checks we’re always cashin’ to buy a little more distraction.

‘Cause mama’s hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married.
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go
Where it stops nobody knows and it ain’t slowin’ down.

This merry go ’round.

~Merry Go’ Round
Kacey Musgroves, Same Trailer, Different Park

UPDATE:  Sooooo I just learned Kacey co-wrote “Undermine,” the song from the TV series “Nashville” that I was totally obsessed with and completely fell in love with…here is Kacey performing it. I like her even more now; again, honest, and introspective and cuts straight to the heart of the emotion. “Undermine” is a rather inspirational song that doesn’t sacrifice hurt or humanity to show strength. Truly beautiful and fun to sing.

“Sometimes good intentions don’t come across so well 
Got me analyzing everything that ain’t worth thinking about 
Just ’cause I ain’t lived through the same hand that was dealt to you 
Doesn’t make me any less, or make any more of you

I wouldn’t trade my best day 
So you could validate all your fears
And if I’ve only got one shot 
Won’t waste it on a shadowbox, I’ll stand right here

It’s all talk, talk, talk, talkin’ in the wind 
It always slows you down when you start listening
And it’s a whole lot harder to shine 
Than undermine.

First mile is always harder
When you’re leaving what you know
Won’t blame you if you stay here
Waving to me as I go
Always wished the best for you
Thought that you would see me through my wildest dreams
Yeah, the ones you thought I’d never meet

Still, you would trade your best day
Just to have your way
All these years

And if you only had one shot
Maybe all this talk
Would disappear

It’s all talk, talk, talk, talkin’ in the wind 
It always slows you down when you start listening
And it’s a whole lot harder to shine 
Than undermine.
~Undermine
Kacey Musgraves, as performed in February 2013