Revisiting Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour

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On March 30, 2018, country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves released her fourth studio album titled Golden Hour. The commercially successful and critically acclaimed project went on to win four awards at the 61st Grammy Awards, including the greatly coveted Album of the Year. Furthermore, this album allowed Musgraves to cross over into pop music spaces, a feat similar to that of global sensation Taylor Swift. 

Golden Hour, an atmospheric disco country-pop album inspired by the love Musgraves felt for her former husband Ruston Kelly, has come back into pop culture conversations as fans and critics anticipate the release of her upcoming fifth studio album: star-crossed. There will also be an accompanying film titled star-crossed: the film that will be played in theaters on September 8, only before its exclusive release on the streaming service Paramount Plus, which will occur two days later. The album star-crossed, available on Friday, September 10, is a response to Golden Hour, as this work is centered around Musgraves’ divorce from Kelly.

Personally, as a Kacey Musgraves and Golden Hour fan, I have been experiencing conflicting feelings about star-crossed. While I am excited for new music from her, Golden Hour is my favorite album of all time, and it was my introduction to Musgraves’ discography, whereas Star-Crossed is a direct contrast to the album that my heart has latched onto. 

Golden Hour has psychedelic songs with lyrics that celebrate romantic love while also being appreciative of all the world has to offer. The album opens this way with “Slow Burn”, an autobiographical track that explores Musgraves’ life before transitioning into a section that admires Earth’s natural wonders. These concepts are also apparent in the songs “Butterflies” and “Oh, What a World”, as they compare the feeling of being in love to experiencing nature. Moreover, there are moments on this project where Musgraves shows immense vulnerability. She does this in “Mother” when she reflects on missing her mother–who lives in a different state from her– and her deceased grandmother. The piece ends on a positive note with “Rainbow”, which is a song about staying strong during dark times because happiness is soon to come. “Rainbow” is not only an effective closer, but this ending track has also become an uplifting anthem for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Golden Hour, in my eyes, is a beautiful and practically perfect album. Star-Crossed, in some ways, is a threat to her previous album as feelings of love and adoration, especially for a particular person, have been traded for bitterness and heartache. Part of me is nervous for star-crossed due to the possibility that Golden Hour could be tainted in my mind. Plus, her newest work is tasked with following up the album that many (including myself) consider to be her magnum opus. I hope my fears are disproven and both works can stand out as amazing in their own ways.