Kacey Musgraves Tells It Like It Is on 'Golden Hour'

The first few lines of Kacey Musgraves new album clue you in on the tone of the whole album. Musgraves is simply going to tell you how it is. The line “Texas is hot / I can be cold / Grandma cried when I pierced my nose” hooks listeners in, the declaration of these facts set to melody making for an intriguing opening. “Slow Burn” is an instant classic, and also represents Musgraves’ career in a way.

 “Golden Hour” is Musgraves’ third studio album, and the country songstress has faced hesitance to be accepted by the country music world in the past. Musgraves’ first single, “Follow Your Arrow”, was shut out by most country radio stations—probably because the song is pro-gay (“Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls if that’s what you’re into”), and country radio was then (and still) dominated by men singing rock-inspired songs. She was famously censored during a performance of “Follow Your Arrow” at the 2013 Country Music Awards. However, Musgraves’ is not a stranger to awards, with multiple Grammys and CMAs to her name, and certainly more to come for this record.“Golden Hour” was inspired by the 2017 eclipse. “There we were in the middle of making this record and a total solar eclipse darkened Nashville on my birthday. My 29th year. A golden hour in my young-adult life,” said Musgraves. 

Her third album is a softer pop, reflecting on the world around her with pretty, light songs like “Oh, What a World,” “Golden Hour,” and “Space Cowboy”. The latter’s lines like “sunsets fade and love does, too” makes for an emotional ballad with a clever title ("You can have your space / Cowboy") that could easily get stuck in your head. Musgraves also married fellow musician Ruston Kelley in 2017, and songs like “Velvet Elvis,” “Butterflies,” and “Love is a Wild Thing” celebrate that relationship and her love for him. 

But love isn’t the only topic covered on “Golden Hour.” On songs like “Mother” and “Lonely Weekend”, she laments the distance between her and her family. The album’s most rebellious (in Musgraves’ typical fashion, check out "Biscuits" for another good one) song “High Horse” can easily become an anti-hate anthem. “Wonder Woman” uses inspiration from the movie’s heroine, but Musgraves’ insists that she’s not Wonder Woman ("There's a reason why you only see it in the movies"). Her song-writing skills and talent make us beg to differ, but we’ll let her have this thoughtful yet fun song.

A stand-out favorite is “Happy & Sad”, where Musgraves reveals she’s so entirely happy that she’s scared of the inevitable fall-out—“I’m the kind of person who starts getting kind of nervous / When I’m having the time of my life.” She’s both happy and sad, because “They say everything that goes up / Must come down / But I don’t want to come down.” This feeling is entirely relatable to listeners, when happiness is an emotion that seems fleeting and we can be so nervous about the downswing that we miss the good in our lives.

The album’s closer, “Rainbow”, is breathtaking. “Let go of your umbrella / ‘Cause darling I’m just trying to tell ya / That there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head,” Musgraves promises, a signal to the end of bad times and a future that includes the good fortune that’s found under the rainbow. Overall, "Golden Hour" shines through and through.