9.5/10 – Musgraves lets her ethereal self shine in 70s-inspired “Golden Hour”
Kacey Musgraves is one of those people in the music business that wears a number of hats – a singer, a songwriter, a musician, etc. But above all else, she’s an artist and proves it tenfold with her third album, “Golden Hour,” which released late last month.
Personally, I’ve strayed away from country music the last few years, mainly because my tastes have changed and I’ve focused more on films and my love of writing. But when I saw that Musgraves was releasing brand new music, I immediately marked the date down on my calendar.
In simplest terms, Musgraves is underrated. But my hope is that after you listen to her latest album, you’ll see why she’s such a hidden treasure in the era of modern country music.
I was originally drawn to the East-Texas singer early on in her career when she was writing for other major country performers like Miranda Lambert (“Mama’s Broken Heart”). Her first album, “Same Trailer, Different Park,” which debuted in 2013, made for a somewhat typical introduction to the country music scene. But I could tell right away that Musgraves had her own story to tell with unique tracks like “Follow Your Arrow” and “Step Off.”
It was her unabashed approach to songwriting and crystal-clear vocals that caught my attention.
When her second album, “Pageant Material,” released in 2015, it was another cool breath of fresh air. With songs like “Die Fun,” “Somebody to Love,” and even “Biscuits,” the now 29-year-old easily personalized things that make us human, especially when it makes us crazy. Her willingness to go against the grain, in music and lyrics, found solid footing with this album. I still blast “Dime Store Cowgirl” on repeat when I’m feeling a bit run down and want to reflect on how far I’ve come – it’s my go-to country girl anthem!
If her first two albums were the crucial stepping stones in solidifying her place in the music industry, Musgraves third album makes an even bolder statement.
This is who I am and this is my inspiration, she seems to profess with the each track.
“Golden Hour” is a trippy, iridescent ride from start to finish and Musgraves easily makes traditional themes feel brand new with an incredibly beautiful and mystical eeriness. Clearly a love letter to 70s country with contemporary lyrics and personal anecdotes, this album is still unapologetically Musgraves. It’s her voice, her words, her life that she shares for what feels like a one-on-one listening session every single time
But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again
You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya
That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head
– Rainbow, Written by Shane L McAnally / Kacey Lee Musgraves / Natalie Hemby
And it’s almost too easy to imagine her gliding across a stage in a rhinestone, bejeweled pant suit with long, flowy hair split right down the middle, obviously channeling the likes of women before her – Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette or Lynn Anderson – with a vintage corded microphone in her hand to boot.
But in all seriousness, true story. That is what Musgraves looked like in person when she opened for Little Big Town in Green Bay, Wis. last month!
From romantic ballads like “Slow Burn” and “Butterflies” to disco-funk-beat anthems like “High Horse” to heartbreak melodies like “Space Cowboy,” Musgraves gives listeners a varied mix of music that doesn’t feel stale or rehashed… it shines.
And I’m the kind of person who starts getting kinda nervous
When I’m having the time of my life
– Happy & Sad, Written by Daniel Tashian / Ian Fitchuk / Kacey Musgraves
I also have to emphasize that my personal go-tos are my favorites because of one thing: the lyrics are profound and deep without being too intense. Both “Happy & Sad” and “Rainbow” touch on how our own emotions, thoughts and insecurities can affect so much of what we experience each and every day. I could listen to these two on repeat for hours.
Musgraves knows the music she wants to create and isn’t afraid to be her own trailblazer in a time where more modern, pop and bro country dominate the radio stations.
And this is why I’m so relieved and proud she’s still doing things her way with “Golden Hour.”