[Cover Photo courtesy of Mike Coppola.]
Kacey Musgraves has been in the music industry for almost a decade now. Her soothing, southern voice has made fans gravitate towards her and the art she produces. In her overall discography, there are two albums that stand out. Both Golden Hour and Star-Crossed can be looked at individually, but there are also parallels and emotional connections that interweave when the songs are analyzed together.
In 2018, Golden Hour was released, launching Musgraves into unknown territory. The country artist took her own path and began to experiment with different production sounds. Combined with her amazing songwriting techniques, what was created still stands as one of her best albums. There is an aura about the tracklist that sends the listener into feelings of euphoria and bliss. Songs like “Oh, What a World” and “Happy & Sad” integrate a slow country tempo with pop effects, and the hit single off the record, “High Horse”, contains every element a radio hit needs, including a catchy chorus and a relatable message. If you're looking for a good cry, “Rainbow” and “Mother” can give you just that, using a stripped-down piano and Musgraves's raw vocals. All of her hard work paid off during awards season in 2019, when the GRAMMYs announced that she had won Album of the Year. The emotional singer expressed in her acceptance speech that it was very important for her country music to cross over and reach different people and I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, it is a no-skip album that deserves endless recognition. At this time in her life, it seems as though Musgraves was in a genuine place; fans can definitely tell through her music that this is true.
Three years later, Musgraves took a leap of faith in blindly creating what is now the album Star-Crossed. She divorced her now ex-husband Ruston Kelly in September 2020, the songwriting process becoming an emotional rollercoaster. Through heartbreak, Musgraves takes her fans on a journey from Track one to Track fifteen. Songs such as “breadwinner” and “justified” are more pop than her usual sound, but “good wife” and “hookup scene” bring back the classic country acoustic guitar. There is a more somber vibe to the record; Musgraves describes not feeling ready enough for her relationship hardships or any sort of heartache. As an artist, I think Musgraves has perfected the technique of conveying her emotions and turning them into unbelievable records. Although I could argue that Golden Hour is the overall better album, Star-Crossed has a more elevated feel lyrically and production-wise.
The country star is currently on tour, singing songs from both albums and performing, despite the surge in COVID-19 cases. She is a timeless artist and continues to promote music and a brand that is appealing to all of her fans. Listen to both albums below: