Vulnerability is a rare thing in the music industry, at least until recently. Twenty-nine-year-old singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves has seen a taste of said vulnerability. Her critically-acclaimed discography was filled with it and quick-witted lyrics so sharp they can pierce through any rough patch.
On her fourth studio album, Golden Hour, she tones the snark down focusing instead on crafting songs about love and loss. More specifically, songs about lost love.
Much like Jay-Z’s 2017 opus 4:44, Musgraves paints a portrait of heartbreak and her place in the music industry across 45 minutes of expertly-written and produced tracks.
Taking inspiration from psychedelic rock songs and modern pop production, every track finds Musgraves revealing more and more of her feelings. Space Cowboy, though not about the anime Cowboy Bebop, is the story of accepting a break up, no matter how hard. She sings ‘Yeah, we had our day in the sun/When a horse wants to run, there ain’t no sense in closing the gate/You can have your space, cowboy.’ The song is accompanied by a grand piano arrangement, sung with a sensitivity only Musgraves seems to be able to provide.
Butterflies is a little more upbeat, providing a dreamy arrangement. Detailing the meeting of her husband, the song is one about going through the motions of life.
Other songs not only use her guitar-playing but also beats that can be found on hip-hop and pop records. It provides some variety, something unheard of in the modern landscape of country music.
Similar to how Ryan Adams or Sturgill Simpson inject personality and flair into a genre that is struggling to remain relevant, Musgraves uses her songwriting abilities to compliment a unique album full of unorthodox production methods.
Country music fans have probably given this album a listen. For everyone else, this is a definite recommendation. A clean and honestly beautiful vocal style is only the icing on the cake. Golden Hour delivers a country album that non-country fans can dig into.
In a decade where music and all genres have their definite picks for the best, Golden Hour might go down as the best country album of the 2010s.
It is a love letter to the genre and a break up album for the ages, one that moves away from the overproduced and lazily-written country songs that dominate the charts.