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Kacey Musgraves (not Willie Nelson), Aug. 13 at USANA Amphitheatre

December 27, 2017

One of the most unusual concert experiences goes hands down to Willie Nelson, who cut his concert less than 30 minutes into his set. Obviously, it was definitely not one of the best concerts of the year. Publicists cited the short show on Nelson’s difficulty breathing in the altitude (though we’d seen him perform the previous year at Red Butte with no problem).

However, Nelson’s opening act, Kacey Musgraves, was the entire night’s saving grace. The rhinestone cowgirl added flair and personality to the show; sometimes country concerts struggle to put on unique personality and flair specific to the artist. Musgraves is uniquely identifiable.

In this August concert she departed a bit from her standard fair of rebel songs for which she has gotten much acclaim, and threw in quite a bit of love. Her song “Love is a Wild Thing” (which has not been released) seemed like such a departure from the stubborn, honest, stripped-down lyrics of her first two albums, but “Golden Hour” (also not yet released) still felt very much like the artist many have grown to love among a sea of country music artists that feel all too cookie cutter these days.

While Musgraves got soft, she remains characteristically unapologetic for it. The country music industry needs more of women and performers like Musgraves singing about real life in lyrically clever ways, rather than the typical songwriting recipe of beer and trucks.

— Jordan Carroll

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