By Devon Hannan, Editorial Director
[MCA Nashville; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Lonely Weekend”, “Space Cowboy”, “High Horse”
Kacey Musgraves is no stranger to throwing the country music world for a loop. On past releases, Same Trailer, Different Park and Pageant Material, she has mentioned and explored “controversial” themes that make many of the genre’s fans uncomfortable. While Musgraves’ latest release may be a bit subtler, its subject matter is just as demanding and heartfelt. Utilizing aspects of different genres to their fullest potential, Golden Hour is the album that country music desperately needed, even if they didn’t really want it.
Tracks like “Butterflies” and “Velvet Elvis” bridge elements of bluesy old-school pop and modern country seamlessly. This album could have easily been all over the place, but instead, it’s expertly crafted to make it just palpable enough for today’s country music lovers. Full of sweet, gentle odes (“Mother”, “Space Cowboy”), Golden Hour is pushing the envelope in just the right places.
In addition to genre-bending components, this album perfectly captures fleeting moments of clarity. “Lonely Weekend” is strung together beautifully by light chord progressions and fluttering vocals, justifying the feeling of missing someone, or missing out, while simultaneously declaring a sense of independence and self-care. “Love is a Wild Thing” is a melting pot of harmonies that drives the sweetest grasp of knowing who you are and where you stand. Musgraves sings, “Even if you lose it, it will find you / There’s no way to stop it, but they’ll try to,” raising the question of whether she is talking about the love of another or the love for oneself.
On the flip side, “High Horse” is a fiery, upbeat track that kicks your hometown hotshot to the curb, all while featuring slick, dance-inducing 80s disco vibes. Sure, this track is fun, but it could also be paralleling the tough guys in the world of mainstream country music. Mainstream country is a big circle jerk of about ten artists – all of which are men – and for so long, women have been disregarded as angry husband killers (I mean don’t get me wrong, that’s tight as hell) and pretty, southern belles worthy of some fake cowboy’s songwriting material. However, Musgraves is making music that dismantles that notion in each and every way. Country music isn’t a men’s game anymore, and it never should have been. The best artists in country music have always been, and will always be, women.
Golden Hour isn’t just the album that country music needed , it’s also an album that girls everywhere needed. Musgraves’ latest is healing, self-aware, inspiring and simply beautiful. It’s so rare to see a country album that is so in touch with its creator’s emotions; it shows girls that they don’t have to be a hardass to make it into the cowboy club. In fact, to hell with the cowboy club – You can just make your own by doing things your own way.