Port City Music Hall
Kacey Musgraves

Oh, What A World: Tour

Kacey Musgraves

Natalie Prass

Tue, January 15, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

State Theatre

Portland, ME

$39.50 Advance / $45 Day of Show

This event is all ages

Buy tickets in person at the Port City Music Hall box office (504 Congress Street) Wednesday-Friday 10AM-5PM, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online right here. State Theatre box office will open one hour before doors night of show.

Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves
There are different masks we all wear that represent different sides of ourselves. None are solely us on their own and yet they all are. There’s the lonely girl - the blissful girl - the new wife - the daughter missing her mother - the hopeful girl - the selfish girl - the sarcastic, hair-sprayed, rhinestoned Texan - the shy girl, the life of the party - the winner and the loser…

They are all characters on this record. None of them alone are me, and yet they all are. The golden hour is when all the masks come together as one and you can see, in perfect light, the whole picture of me.

In early 2016, when Kacey Musgraves finally set some time aside to start writing again, she was in a confused place. When she broke through in 2013 with Same Trailer, Different Park she was instantly recognized as one of music’s most original new voices in years; she was named “New Artist of the Year” by the Country Music Association and awarded both Best Country Song and Best Country Album at the Grammys, as well as an Academy of Country Music trophy for Best Album. Her 2015 follow-up, Pageant Material, also reached Number One on the charts, and received another batch of accolades and award nominations.

But now she was frustrated, unsure which road she wanted to take…what she wanted to say or how she wanted it to sound. And then, just as soon as she got off the road, slowed down, and began to re-focus on simply enjoying being creative again, she met singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly—who has since become her husband.

“Almost immediately, I could feel a metamorphosis happening,” Musgraves says. “I was feeling genuinely happy for the first time in a long time, and it started pouring out in ideas and songs. I had never really written a ‘love song’ and felt sincere about it. Now for the first time, I had that perspective, and it didn't feel cheesy or contrived.”

The journey that she took is chronicled in Golden Hour, her third album (in addition to 2016’s acclaimed A Very Kacey Christmas, a Top Ten hit on the Holiday charts). It marks a more personal, emotional chapter for a songwriter who has been celebrated for her piercing observations and finely-hewn storytelling.

“I had a different mindset this time, which was feeling rather than thinking—leading heart first, rather than brain first,” she says. “I’ve always been known for my turns of phrase, for being clever, but you can wear that out at a certain point, so what other side am I inspired to show?

“It’s a little scary, because I don't want my music to come across any less biting or smart. But I think there’s another strength that comes from leaving more up to the listener and painting with other colors—not being so linear all the time.”

The sole example of her previous life on the new album comes with the confidently lonely “Space Cowboy,” in which she sings “..though we had our day in the sun, when a horse wants to run there ain’t no sense in closin’ the gate…you can have your space, cowboy.” It marks Musgraves closing a door, making peace with a certain part of her life—“it’s the only song that goes back to where my mind was at before I met my husband.”

The transition to her new phase came with the sparse, dreamy “Butterflies,” written with Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird. “I had the imagery come to me, but I didn’t yet know what it would be,” says Musgraves. “And then I started seeing butterflies everywhere, they started following me…a medium even randomly told me that my grandmother’s spirit shows itself in the form of a yellow butterfly. So that has really become a metaphor for this time period and this record as a whole.”

In this window of creative exploration, she tried working with a couple of friends, Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian—guys she had known for quite a while, but had never actually written with. Together they came up with “Oh, What a World,” which she describes as “a magical song, all about the real and beautiful things in this world, and being enamored with them as well as the person I'm singing to. It’s a song that wrangles with bigger questions about reincarnation and how we all got here on this planet."

Notably, they constructed a sound for “Oh, What a World” that combined Vocoder, banjo, and classic pedal steel. “I had this vision of futurism meeting tradition—space country, galactic/cosmic country—where those instruments could live together as a guiding tone for the record. Organic meeting non-organic in a very authentic way,” she says.

Golden Hour offers a strikingly new musical direction for Musgraves, with inspirations ranging from Neil Young to Sade, even dipping lightly into disco land on “High Horse” (“I was on a huge Bee Gees kick,” she explains)

“You won’t find anybody on this earth more inspired by traditional country music more than me,” she says, “but there are all these other facets of music that inspire me, too. I was wondering what it would sound like if those influences could live cohesively. I could still have banjos and steel guitar, but I want to connect with people outside of country music, as well.”

Excited by the collaboration with Fitchuk and Tashian, they started making demo recordings together and she committed to producing the album with them. Golden Hour was recorded mostly live at Sheryl Crow’s home studio, which is in an actual horse barn. “Sheryl graciously let us come in and set up house,” says Musgraves. “It feels like a sanctuary, tucked away in the woods, away from Music Row and the whole 9-to-5 mentality of the industry. We were around these beautiful horses and on breaks we would go down and play with them or ride—it really set the tone for the project. It made me feel very grounded.”

The songs explore a spectrum of feelings and experiences. The album opens with “Slow Burn,” which Musgraves calls “one of my most autobiographical songs, a personal look inside myself and a snapshot of where I’m at in this chapter.” She notes that “Lonely Weekend” is inspired by feelings she says she has experienced as a byproduct of touring for a living and being gone all the time. ”It's an anthem for loners, homebodies like me,” she says. “I’m fine being by myself, I’ve learned how to enjoy that as I get older.”

“Mother” came about when her mom texted her a picture of her hands while Musgraves was at home on an LSD trip (“The number of times I’ve done psychedelics hasn't been astronomical, but those times have always been profoundly eye-opening for me,” she says). Overcome by emotion and love, and thinking about the cycle of mothers and children, she wrote the song and “bawled my eyes out.” She recorded the song live, with only a simple piano accompaniment. “It has flaws I had to come to terms with, because I’m a perfectionist to a fault,” she says. “But it’s a moment on the record that I'm really proud of—art isn’t supposed to be totally perfect.

A similarly intimate track is the final song on Golden Hour. Musgraves wrote “Rainbow” five years ago, and played it at her grandmother’s funeral. At the last minute, it filled in a piece she felt was missing on the album. “I had all these groovy songs with a positive outlook on love,” she says. “I had the irreverent, fuck-you moment with ‘High Horse, and the crunch of ‘Velvet Elvis,’ but I needed a hopeful moment. Something that speaks to myself and any person struggling with whatever they’re going through.”

With Golden Hour, one of pop music’s greatest young talents takes a powerful step, broadening her range, expanding her canvas, creating new possibilities. “I’ve always been a commentator on society and the human race,” says Kacey Musgraves. “With what’s going on politically and socially, it’s a really scary time, and it could be easy to focus on the negative aspects and lean too hard on the things we all want to see change. But it was also important to me to inject some hope, love, and color with this music. My life right now has allowed me to see the magic in the world.”
Natalie Prass
Natalie Prass
The songs were written, the band was ready, and the studio was booked. Fans and critics alike were eagerly awaiting the follow-up to Natalie Prass's 2015 self-titled breakout album, a collection hailed by NPR as "a majestic debut," but perhaps no one was more eager for record number two than Prass herself. She'd waited what felt like a lifetime to release that first album and then toured the world relentlessly behind it, sharing bills with the likes of Fleet Foxes and The War on Drugs on her way to becoming one of the year's most talked-about artists. By the time recording sessions were scheduled to begin, she was absolutely dying to launch the next chapter, which made what happened next all the more shocking: she scrapped the whole thing.

"The record was ready to go, and then the election happened," explains Prass. "I was devastated. It made me question what it means to be a woman in America, whether any of the things I thought were getting better were actually improving, who I am and what I believe in. I knew I would be so upset with myself if I didn't take the opportunity to say some of the things that meant so much to me, so I decided to rewrite the record. I needed to make an album that was going to get me out of my funk, one that would hopefully lift other people out of theirs, too, because that's what music is all about."

The result is 'The Future And The Past,' a stunning work of art and a powerful feminist statement from an artist who's only just begun to tap into the full range of her considerable powers. Reuniting Prass with producer and long-time friend Matthew E. White, the album is at once celebratory and defiant, capturing all the joy, frustration, fear and hope inherent in modern womanhood as it synthesizes the influence of everything from vintage gospel and 80's pop to 90's R&B and Brazilian Tropicália. Prass displays a rare gift for transcending time and place in her songwriting, tapping into age-old struggles for autonomy and equality that resonate profoundly in the present.

Though she'd been honing her craft and paying her dues for years, Prass first emerged to international acclaim in 2015, when her debut record earned its rightfully rapturous reception. Rolling Stone swooned for the Virginia native's "beguiling voice and refined taste," while Pitchfork praised her album as a "smoldering perspective on passionate romance," and The New Yorker simply called it "timeless." She appeared on the Martin Scorsese-helmed HBO series Vinyl, performed on the BBC's Later... With Jools Holland, and CBS This Morning, and racked up more than ten million streams on Spotify. Before long, she was headlining dates around the world and playing festival stages from Bonnaroo and Rock En Seine to End Of The Road and Forecastle.

Once touring for the album had wrapped up, Prass took a stab at writing in new cities with fresh faces, spending time in London, LA, and Nashville, but it only served to reinforce the feeling that she belonged back home in Richmond. There, she holed up with White for intensive creative sessions as she attempted to work through the difficult existential questions she found herself facing in a country that expected women to be seen and not heard.

"I went over to his house every single day, and we'd work from 10am to 5pm straight just writing and listening and talking," she explains. "It was very therapeutic for me, and I think it actually helped Matt to understand my point of view as a woman, too."

Recorded once again at White's Spacebomb Studios, the album showcases both a new political depth to Prass's songwriting and a bold willingness to follow her muse wherever it leads. While her debut was marked by elaborate horn and string arrangements, 'The Future And The Past' finds Prass stripping her songwriting back to its most essential elements. Groove reigns supreme as she channels Dionne Warwick and Janet Jackson and lets her dazzling vocals dance across funky instrumental arrangements. Album opener "Oh My" sounds like a lost slice of 80's gold, complete with off-kilter Talking Heads-esque guitar, but dig a little deeper and you'll find a song that's pure 2018 as Prass sings, "Seems like every day we're losing when we choose to read the news." Losing's not an option, though, and Prass makes it abundantly clear that women won't even entertain the notion of moving backwards. On "Ain't Nobody" she confidently promises that there "ain't nobody can take this from our hands," while the soulful, swaggering "Sisters" plays out like a mission statement for the entire album, as Prass and a chorus of female backup singers proclaim, "I wanna say it loud / for all the ones held down / we gotta change the plan."

"I didn't want to point any fingers, and I didn't want to sound desperate or defeated," she explains. "I wanted to stay positive and joyful. The world's obviously not perfect, but there's nothing we can't do if we love and support each other. It was really important to me that these songs make people feel that way."

It's a principle that guides Prass throughout the album, no matter her subject material. On "Short Court Style," she taps into Diana Ross disco and reflects on the bliss a healthy relationship can bring, while the hypnotic "Hot For The Mountain" assures all the outcasts and misfits that they're not alone, and the playful "Never Too Late" conjures up a world where a wish upon a star can bring back lost love. Even in the album's darker moments, like the Karen Carpenter-inspired ballad "Far From You" or the cooing pop gem "Nothing To Say," Prass refuses to let go of her rebelliously optimistic streak. "I will never kneel when power is in fear and aimed upon me," she sings on the South American-influenced "Ship Go Down," adding "no no I am never drowning" in a breathy delivery that's light as a feather and tough as nails.

Ultimately, 'The Future And The Past' is a record that's about neither of those things. Instead, it's about womanhood and the modern world and the things we can do right this very moment to make them both better through love and support and camaraderie. The album may have been born out of deep doubt and disappointment, but it insists on faith and optimism, and it succeeds because Prass leads by example, embracing her femininity on her own indomitable terms. "Music's supposed to make you feel better," she reflects, and in that respect alone, she's created a genuine triumph.
Venue Information:
State Theatre
609 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101
http://www.statetheatreportland.com/