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Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour (Album Review)

Thursday, 19 April 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Rebellious. Outspoken. Liberal. Misfit. Stubborn. Independent. Stoner. Since the release of her 2013 debut album ‘Same Trailer Different Park’, people have been desperate to label Kacey Musgraves. But if anyone thought they had the Texan singer-songwriter pegged, both as a person and musician, the ethereal intimacy of this neo-traditional country album will banish any preconceptions for good.

‘Golden Hour’ features a shift in focus, and was crafted by a musician who, following her marriage to songwriter Ruston Kelly, is seeing the world differently. From self-acceptance and familial appreciation to artistic expression, femininity and past heartache, every part of Musgraves’ character has blossomed here.

She’s penned a collection of songs that, while still boasting clever lyrical winks, places the emphasis on feeling not thinking, capturing her emotional metamorphosis through the welding of music and message.

The song Butterfly perfectly encapsulates that, with its daydream ambience the ideal soundtrack to a life-changing awakening. 

Elsewhere, the title track’s romantic Sade sparkle underpins a heartfelt love letter, while the enchantingly sparse Rainbow is flush with the kind of optimism that can only come from someone whose heart and mind are wide open. Not that ‘Golden Hour’ is overly sappy, though.

Musgraves is too attuned to her complex inner struggles for that. She explores why this relationship is so special - and how much that terrifies her - with endearing honesty. Happy and Sad charts the pain and pleasure of falling in love while battling a pathological fear of it imploding. The philosophical melancholy of Space Cowboy recalls a past break up as the sun sets on Mr Wrong and the search for Mr Right continues.

Prior to this release, Musgraves claimed there were only two genres of music: good and bad. Possibly anticipating a backlash against an album that’s stylistically different to its predecessors, such a statement was unnecessary. She’s certainly painting with a broader palette, but ‘Golden Hour’ is still built on an organic backbone of country instrumentation. Rather than defecting to the world of pop, she’s imported textures from other genres to conjure appropriate soundscapes that always serve her storytelling.  

Slow Burn features vintage Neil Young acoustic voicings while banjo, viola, cello and keyboards evoke mind-expanding atmospherics that reflect new possibilities. Separated from her partner and partying friends, on Lonely Weekend Musgraves juxtaposes isolation with an upbeat pop vibe. Oh, What A World, meanwhile, meditates on the intangible mysteries that surround us, mixing otherworldly ELO vocoder with pedal steel to elicit a feeling of floating above Nashville’s skyline, looking down and seeing the planet from a magical new perspective.

Most brazen, fresh and exciting is High Horse, a sublime mash-up of country storytelling and Bee Gees disco. It’s the perfect blend for a song that shoots down buzz-killing traditionalists in vintage Musgraves fashion. If she has the balls to play it at this year’s CMAs (and she certainly does), we may witness a true watershed moment for contemporary country music.

There’s a ripple effect that comes from bathing in Musgraves’ Technicolor outlook. Your perspectives will shift. You’ll become more aware of everything that’s good about this world. Open to new opportunities and bursting with hope. Doubtless some will claim she’s lost her edge but, at a time when it would be easy to write about society’s well-documented evils, what could be more subversive, contradictory and fittingly Kacey Musgraves than a record that leaves listeners with a radiant afterglow?

Kacey Musgraves Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue October 23 2018 - BRISTOL Hippodrome
Wed October 24 2018 - YORK York Barbican
Fri October 26 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Royal Concert Hall Notts
Sat October 27 2018 - LONDON SSE Arena, Wembley
Sun October 28 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Tue October 30 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Thu November 01 2018 - GATESHEAD Sage Gateshead
Fri November 02 2018 - GLASGOW SEC Armadillo
Sat November 03 2018 - LIVERPOOL Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Sun November 04 2018 - BELFAST Waterfront Hall
Mon November 05 2018 - BELFAST Waterfront Hall Auditorium
Tue November 06 2018 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre

Click here to compare & buy Kacey Musgraves Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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