Playfully poignant, mixed with unguarded love, Kacey Musgraves takes a leap forward with Golden Hour.

Ryan McDonald
Raised Rowdy Contributor

Growth.  Progression. Openness.

These are the tags we love to fall back on and apply to an artist after they’ve released a few albums, cemented a sound and then do a 180 and drop a much different record upon our collective heads.

Be it because they feel the timing is right, such as with The Cadillac Three’s “Legacy” or in Sturgill Simpson’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” because, well – he’s Sturgill These types of records are met with one of two responses: either “Oh my, this sounds nothing like what I’m used to. Why can’t they just sound like their first album?” Or “Bravo! Kudos to them for stepping outside of what everyone expected and making an album that was for them that we can still call ours!”

I can unequivocally attest that Kacey has gifted us with the latter. Those who are expecting the edgy, sarcastic with a side of grits girl from the trailer will be pleasantly surprised with Golden Hour that drops March 30.  The 29-year-old Texan spreads her formerly industry-bound wings and soars through a melodic masterpiece replete with her distinct voice that showers love upon her new husband, while casually taking a few parting jabs at a distant memory.  

Golden Hour is not an attempt for Kacey and her band to branch out and set the world on fire musically, save for a few tracks that will certainly have listeners turn their head. The first time one hears the pseudo-80’s backdrop of “Velvet Elvis”, which heaps praise upon the object of her affection, and Wonder Woman’s 70s theme, “High Horse”, that in a not-so-subtle manner breaks down the trappings of someone who needs to remove themselves from the top of the totem pole they so often place themselves atop.  

“You ain’t never gonna come down/Giddy up and ride straight out of this town,” leaves little to the imagination of how Musgraves really feels. The last parting shot comes by way of Space Cowboy and its cold, honest story. “Boots weren’t made for sitting by the door”, and “shoulda learned from the movies that good guys don’t run away” leave no unanswered questions as to Kacey’s feelings about the subject of the song.

As listeners are being floated down this calm river of sultry lyrics, they’re docked for a rest with a 1:18 minute song that only an artist with Kacey’s impressive resume could pull off. “Mother” is a quick glimpse into Musgrave’s longing for her mom, which would never be able to land on a first, possibly even second record. Nevertheless, it adds a necessary depth and contrast that all introspective records birth.  

Aside from the pain from longing for her Mom, or the need to close fence gates on relationships gone wrong, Golden Hour is a love story etched permanently in vinyl.  

Kacey’s airy, unique vocal tone weaves in and out of every song like a lark floats through clouds on a sunny day. “Slow Burn”, “Oh What a World”, and “Love Is a Wild Thing” soar with heartfelt lyrics that turn the listener into pools of happiness for Kacey and the peace that she’s found.  

If the album needed but one track to stand on to give listeners the true meaning of what it’s trying to convey, it would undoubtedly be “Butterflies.”

“Caught up in a web, gettin’ used to staying there”, followed up by “Now I remember what it feels like to fly” and “Now you’re liftin’ me up, instead of holdin’ me down/stealin’ my heart, instead of stealin’ my crown” personify the growth, progression and openness that Kacey lends to this record.  

Glean what you may from the distance it places between what you’re used to, and what you’re now hearing, but don’t discredit one of country music’s most talented songwriters when she gifts us with something as special and personal as Golden Hour.

 

 

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