Let me set the scene… a country pop icon has dropped her highly anticipated fifth studio album and we need to talk about it. Kacey Musgraves gained the world's attention when she swept the 2019 Grammy Awards, winning the highest honour of the night “Album of the Year” for her fourth album Golden Hour. Now, us gays have known about Ms. Musgraves for a while now. She is a big LBGT Ally and has referenced her support of the community in a lot of her work and interviews, which as we know is rare for someone in country music. On her 2013 debut album, she sang “Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into” on her self-empowerment anthem “Follow Your Arrow ''. Another notable lyric from that song: “If the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint”. She made points. Fast forward to 2018 when her fame was accelerated following the release of Golden Hour. You could not go on Instagram without seeing at least one story on your feed of someone listening to this album. And for good reason. The album seemed to connect with everyone and was an instant classic. Songs like “High Horse” got the gays on the dancefloor, yee-hawing in assless chaps and then “Rainbow” would queue up next and we’d all be in tears. So truly everything you need in an album. “Golden Hour” was full of love, positive energy and was from the gleaming perspective of a new, beautiful relationship. The aesthetics were incredibly light and Midsommar-y (just not in a culty way).
Fast forward to 2021, and Musgraves has been through a lot. Her and her then-husband announced their divorce in July 2020 after just three years. Immediately (and maybe selfishly) fans knew we were going to get an emotionally charged album. And that we did. Star-Crossed was released earlier this month with an accompanying 50 minute visual movie exclusive to theatres for 1 night and now streaming on Paramount+. The album is described by Kacey as “a tragedy in three parts' ', referencing Shakespeare. It is emotional, vulnerable and poetic and today we’ll be listing 5 songs from the album you have to hear.
The title track to this album is ethereal. The story-telling lyrics, the slow build towards the end that makes you feel like you’ve just reached the top of Everest. On this track, Kacey tells the tale of two lovers who just couldn’t make it work, despite their attempts to save their relationship. It’s painfully honest with Kacey singing “I signed the papers yesterday, you came and took your things away, moved out of the home we made..”. It’s the perfect track to intro and set the theme of the album. It almost says “Buckle up, you’re about to feel things.”
Best lyric: “Did we fly too high just to get burned by the sun?”
Speaking on feeling things, this next track will have you laughing then crying. Maybe not in that order. On “Justified”, Kacey sings about not knowing how to feel after her heartbreaking divorce, but is calling her range of emotions justified. You know, like when you remember your ex fondly and remember the times when you two just laughed and made peanut butter cookies at 2AM but then also remember they constantly made you feel small… Oops, just me? The visual to “Justified” from the Parmount+ movie especially packs a punch. We all have cried in a car but Kacey makes her heartbreak look so… fashion.
Best lyric: “Healing doesn’t happen in a straight line.”
This next track is probably one of the most relatable and beautifully tragic songs on Star-Cossed. Everyone knows what it’s like to miss an ex and find yourself looking back on your camera roll of the good times, the honeymoon stage if you will. This song hits the nail on the head of that emotion. It’s easy to fall into that trap and start forgetting why you ended things in the first place. Speaking about the track, Kacey said “I found myself just way back in the camera roll, just one night alone in my bedroom. Now I’m back in 2018, now I’m in 2017. And what’s crazy is that we never take pictures of the bad times. There’s no documentation of the fight that you had where, I don’t know, you just pushed it a little too far.”
Best lyric: “Chronological order and nothing but torture, scroll too far back that’s what you get. I don’t wanna see him, but I can’t delete him, it just doesn’t feel right yet.”
Okay, okay. That’s enough crying… for now. The next track on this album you must hear is “Simple Times”. This track reminisces on the simple times of our youth that we always take for granted. Kacey sings she wishes she could “Put my lip gloss on, kick it at the mall like there’s nothing wrong”. Same girl. I love a nostalgia themed country-pop song, you know? The video features Musgraves herself, You’s Victoria Pedretti, Princess Nokia and Drag Race’s Symone walking through a mall in slow motion in cute pastel colours before they obtain weapons and rob a wedding dress store. Now that’s a message.
Best lyric: “Cause being grown up kinda sucks and I’m really just missing the simple times.”
There is a Light
For the final track you have to hear on this album, let’s end it on an optimistic note. On this track, Kacey sings about how even after everything and all her recent heartbreak, she is able to come to the conclusion that things will get better. The optimism and energetic nature of the song flows perfectly to close out this album. As mentioned previously, it really does feel like this is the right way to end an album that is slated as a “tragedy in three parts”. It feels as if Musgraves has found the road to healing in this song and is ready for her light to shine brighter than ever.
Best lyric: “There was a shadow of doubt, but baby it’s never going out, There is a light inside of me.”