Our next three Country Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Country in April, May and June 2023 — feature two former VMP Record of the Month artists and a sophomore bluegrass beauty.
April: Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material
Kacey Musgraves’ debut Same Trailer Different Park was featured as March’s Essentials Record of the Month. This month, Pageant Material is featured as the April Country Record of the Month. It’s Musgraves’ direct follow-up to her first record, and closely follows the wake of her newfound fame and success. Amileah Sutliff writes in the Listening Notes, “Pageant Material is often both an exploration of that fear from the other side of fame, and a celebration of maintaining your realness in any environment that threatens to diminish it.”
“It was clear to me, from the moment we started talking about featuring Same Trailer Different Park in VMP Essentials, that we also needed to do Pageant Material in VMP Country, as that album especially feels like a slightly more traditional turn for Kacey, before she’d leave the bounds of country on the side of the road on Golden Hour,” said VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer. “Pageant Material is the honky-tonk comedown after Same Trailer Different Park, with a production sound that makes the album sound like it’s coming from a jukebox in 1987 as much as 2015, it’s the Kacey album everyone overlooks, which made it perfect for us to remind people: this album rules.”
Our version of the album is pressed on exclusive 180g Gold Nugget vinyl with lacquers cut by Barry Grint of Alchemy Mastering at AIR. It includes a Listening Notes booklet written by Sutliff.
Sign up now to receive Pageant Material.
May: Keith Whitley’s Don’t Close Your Eyes
Country and bluegrass artist Keith Whitley’s sophomore album Don’t Close Your Eyes is the May Country Record of the Month. Whitley’s first two outputs, an EP and his debut album, did not meet his expectations and what he sought to deliver as a singer and songwriter. It wasn’t until Don’t Close Your Eyes that he was finally able to express himself the way he wanted.
Listening Notes author Marissa Moss writes, “Whitley had always been an emotive singer, but the first single, ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes,’ went even deeper into rarefied emotional territory
— it was tender and twangy, strong and self-assured in its vulnerability, never needing to hang on to faint ideas of masculine country tropes.”
The VMP exclusive edition of Don’t Close Your Eyes marks the first time it has ever been reissued. It’s pressed on 180g Lavender Marble vinyl, with lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and comes with a Listening Notes booklet written by Moss.
“From the time we announced VMP Country, our members have been asking for us to feature Keith Whitley,” Winistorfer said. “Out of print since its release, it’s an honor to bring it back on vinyl as a celebration of everything Keith was, and might have been.”
Sign up here to receive an email notification when Don’t Close Your Eyes becomes available starting April 20.
June: Sturgill Simpson’s High Top Mountain
The June VMP Country Record of the Month is former VMP Country artist Sturgill Simpson’s debut album, High Top Mountain, a record that encapsulates the artist’s beginnings and is “devoted as much to his family story as it is to telling the tale of a country singer trying to make a living,” according to the album’s new Listening Notes.
The VMP exclusive 10th-anniversary edition of High Top Mountain is pressed on 180g Coke Bottle Clear vinyl, with lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, and has alternate cover art. It includes a Listening Notes booklet written by Winistorfer.
“Our first repeat artist in VMP Country history, we jumped at the chance to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sturgill Simpson’s debut LP,” Winistorfer said. “Released a year before he set the world on fire with Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, High Top Mountain announced the arrival of a new country shit-stirrer, a true artist unwilling to play the game to get ahead, even if he admits he’d sell his soul for a record deal on this record.”
Winistorfer added, “It’s maybe not the most well-known Sturgill album, but it’s probably my personal favorite.”
Sign up here to receive an email notification when High Top Mountain becomes available starting May 18.