I Just Found Kacey Musgraves and I Love Her

“Woke up on the wrong side of rock bottom/ you’re all outta pennies and the well it done run dry” begins Kacey Musgraves’ album Same Trailer Different Park, in the song “Silver Lining.” With this cute aphorism, she had me hooked. Same Trailer is an engaging country album, replete with songs that serve as a corrective of Southern culture.

Musgraves has written or co-written all of the songs on the record, and her lyrics are strongest (and most incisive) when they’re critiquing the way things are. “If you ain’t got two kids by 21/ you’re probably gonna die alone/ least that’s what tradition told you,” she sings on the dark and inspired “Merry Go ‘Round.” In this number, Musgraves uses a play on “merry,” “marry” and “Mary” with known phrases (“Jack and Jill went up a hill” and “Mary, mary, quite contrary”) to convey the silly, yet all too familiar conventions of the South. By tapping into our collective unconscious with the delicate banjo strums and the rhythm and rhymes of the song, Musgraves skillfully uncovers the assumptions and prejudices of the behaviors she sings about.

Though her voice isn’t quite as strong as singers such as Miranda Lambert (whose voice is often compared to Musgraves’), she works it to its utmost potential, using background vocalists to enhance and texturize her lyrics. In this fan’s (and liberal scene’s) favorite “Follow Your Arrow,” a male background singer accompanies Musgraves on the chorus, singing

Make lots of noise

Kiss lots of boys

Or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into

When the straight and narrow

Gets a little too straight

Roll up a joint, or don’t

Just follow your arrow wherever it points

(She had the nerve to sing this song at the Country Music Awards, surely to a wholly negative reception.) According to Wikipedia, “Follow Your Arrow” only hit the mid-twenties on the Billboard “hot country songs” chart and the upper-forties on the Billboard “country airplay” chart. Yet it peaked at number four on the Billboard “bubbling under hot singles” chart. Country radio is a funny thing. When singers lament not having a gun or nurse a broken heart over chords, it’s all the rage. But when a young woman sings about girls kissing girls and uses a pedal steel to slide between verses, it simply won’t achieve Shelton status.

Everything comes together seamlessly on “Stupid,” in which the slithering of fingers on the guitar and banjo presents a jaunty undercurrent to the brace-yourself-for-this song. A minor-inflected first verse is followed by the blaring chorus: “Stupid love is stupid/ don’t know why we always do it/ finally find it just to lose it/ always find us looking stupid/ stupid.” The plucking of the banjo takes center stage after the bridge, and then she launches back into the densely packed chorus.

The only two songs I find myself skipping are “Dandelion” and “Back on the Map,” but this doesn’t take away from the merit and strength of the album for me. There are a handful of Taylor Swift songs I don’t care for, after all.

I, for one, am a fan of Kacey Musgraves, and believe she’s brilliant. I’d love to see her live, but I think she already toured the New York area. Young, smart, hip, savvy – oh, and she whistles darn good, too. Kacey Musgrave is the complete package and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the young country sure-to-be superstar.

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Bo’s

When I first heard about Bo’s from Gothamist, I knew I had to try it. First, it’s located in the neighborhood where I work, which is a definite advantage. Second, and more important, it shares the name of my most wonderful kitten. As soon as I read about Bo’s, I called them up and made a reservation for Friday night.

bo's crispy alligator

crispy alligator

Bo’s is a long narrow restaurant serving up Bayou specialities situated on 24th Street, just beyond the Italian delicacy mecca that is Eataly. In the front, there is a bar frequented by the creatives of the district, all sipping the fine cocktails Bo’s has to offer. When you walk past the bar and into the rear of the restaurant, the place opens up to a wonderful interior, lit with just the right amount of illumination. It’s a beautiful space, for sure.

After a few minutes, we were served monkey bread, which is basically a fantastic white bread with much more salt and butter than your average loaf from the supermarket (or even than what you’d make homemade). We received four pieces, and I ate 3.5 of them. That’s how good it was.

We began our meal with the crispy alligator. Sounds … reptilian, no? It was amazing. Lightly battered pieces of alligator were mixed among chunks of red pepper with a creamy chili aioli on the side. The alligator was not at all what I had imagined. It was chewy and flavorful, and the chili aioli was the perfect accompaniment. You must try the crispy alligator at Bo’s.

bo's buttermilk braised fried chicken

buttermilk braised fried chicken

For my entree, I ordered the perfectly cooked (medium) skirt steak with a French feta sauce drizzled on top and the most perfect mashed potato puree, inflected with hints of bacon, positioned underneath the steak. To round out the dish, I also received a hearty portion of fresh carrots that were roasted with honey-glaze. It was sublime.

My Dining Partner (MDP) opted for the buttermilk braised fried chicken, which was enormously flavorful and delicately battered. Oddly, Bo’s serves the fried chicken with asparagus, rather than a starch. I suppose the buttermilk biscuit (delicious!) that comes with the dish supplies the right amount of carbs the patron could desire. MDP greatly enjoyed his dish, finishing off the very last bit of it.

I knew we had to order dessert since they had pumpkin beignets on the menu. They were quite good, although not the highlight of the meal (which, though everything was very good, may have been the monkey bread for me). The fried balls of dough were rolled in granulated sugar, and were filled with pumpkin goodness. On the side, we were served a maple sugar ice cream that wasn’t particularly sweet, but had just the right hint of flavor to it. Very good.

I implore you to try Bos’. You certainly won’t be sorry. But bring a good credit card; it’s a tad pricey.

Bo’s

6 W. 24th St. (between Broadway and 6th Avenue)

Flatiron, New York

Take the N/R to 23rd Street. Walk north one block and turn left onto 24th Street. It’s on the south side of the street.