Three years after the release of ‘Golden Hour’, a dreamy country album dedicated to love, Kacey Musgraves dropped ‘star-crossed’: her fifth studio album all about heartbreak and a love that had broken into a million pieces. Over the course of fifteen songs, she takes the listener on a journey of her divorce, showing how a relationship doesn’t just fall apart over night, but goes through stages of anger, denial, confusion, resentment, and ultimately forgiveness.
The genre is pop-country, rich with emotional storytelling and lyrics that confess her faults and the faults of her ex-husband. She explores new sounds, as well, even concluding the album with ‘gracias a la vida’, a song sung completely in Spanish. It’s a cover that was originally written and performed by Violeta Parra, a Chilean folk artist.
The song order seems to mirror the timeline of her relationship’s demise, despite those emotions varying throughout. The first half of the album has a little sense of hope for the relationship, and she tends to focus a lot on her actions and regrets, especially in songs like ‘good wife’, where she takes the blame. ‘justified’, which was the second single released from the album, is a definite turning point among the track list. She’s starting to stand up for herself and validate her own rollercoaster of emotions as a response to how she was treated, and ‘breadwinner’ suggests her success in the music industry may have caused insecurities in the other party.
Critics have argued that it’s not a country album, and it’s even become ineligible to win a Grammy for the Country Album category, which has been a decision that has come with a lot of backlash, others contending that country music should allow space for artists to experiment with different sounds and expand the genre. Kacey herself fought back on her Instagram stories (@spaceykacey), captioning an old picture of herself in a pink cowboy hat “You can take the girl out of country, but you can’t take the country out of a girl.” She followed this up with a series of photos of herself performing with other country artists, and lastly, one of her holding a guitar and throwing up two middle fingers.
‘star-crossed’ as a whole is a must-listen for those who are going through a breakup; there are ballads that you can cry to and allow you to feel your feelings, and upbeat girl boss bops that will get you up off the floor. The most powerful message this album communicates, one especially important to young girls, is that life isn’t over even if a relationship is.