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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Kacey Musgraves breaks new ground with “star-crossed”

Kasey Musgraves fourth album Star-Crossed was released for streaming on Friday, Sept. 10, three and a half years since the release of her third album, Golden Hour.
Photo by via pitchfork.com

Kasey Musgraves fourth album “Star-Crossed” was released for streaming on Friday, Sept. 10, three and a half years since the release of her third album, “Golden Hour.”

Kacey Musgraves’ fifth studio album, “star-crossed,” was released on Sept. 10 and showcases her continual refresh of the country genre by adding in new auditory elements, without taking away from her signature sound.
Excusing her last non-Christmas album, “Golden Hour,” where Musgraves shared her story of falling in love, finding happiness and seeing everything in a new light, this album offers a darker half, “golden hour faded black,” as she says in “what doesn’t kill me,” which unfortunately reflects much of her own life. In “star-crossed,” Musgraves lets in the hurt and healing of a lost relationship, coupled with sounds the singer-songwriter hadn’t yet explored.
Totaling 47 minutes of playtime, Musgraves uses each of her new 15 songs to let audiences in on a new chapter of her life, exploring her emotions following her divorce from Ruston Kelly. What best establishes the album is the title itself, and as Musgraves sings within the first song, she “sets the scene” for what’s to come, both in her album and her life.
The album’s strongest aspect is that much like the healing process, it’s nonlinear but still explores all the topics of hurt, regret, blame, longing, loneliness and redemption that accompany moving past an old flame. In this way, Musgraves not only highlights her ability to capture a plethora of emotions simultaneously — “happy and sad at the same time” if you will — but also her own maturity. Though her divorce is a devastating loss, Musgraves takes it in stride, showing off immense poise and posterity through an immensely dark time.
Within the album, there is a motif of Spanish guitar, evident in the title track “star-crossed.” This style enters throughout the album in varying amounts, and during the first listen the guitar certainly packs a punch once the final track “gracias a la vida” plays, with heavy amounts of the sound and Musgraves blessing audiences with a song sung entirely in Spanish. Though this Spanish guitar is not a particularly familiar sound for Musgraves, it by no means feels out of place knowing her Texan, guitar-playing roots.
Also worth noting is the introduction of sounds not typically associated with Musgraves, especially the heavier electronic sounds like auto-tune and synthesized instruments. Though more heavy handed on the front half of the record, the choices to add the effects seem intentional, and while a new move for the artist, do not make her seem like any less of the creator fans have already come to love.
Musgraves’ most unexpected element was an astonishing flute solo in the penultimate track “there is a light.” Though some critics have argued Musgraves is the first to implement the flute sound into a “country” genre, this technique is not new. This Marshall Tucker Band method hasn’t yet been heard in Musgraves’ music, but is certainly a welcome addition. Though not yet experienced in her music, the introduction of a new light soprano sound perfectly suits Musgraves, and by no means feels like a disruption of theme.
With this album, Musgraves breaks new ground for herself and for the “country” genre she is continually pushed into. This album isn’t country, it isn’t pop, it isn’t alternative or new age.
It’s simply Kacey.
Michaela Rush is a English junior and life & arts editor for The Battalion.

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