STAR-CROSSED - KACEY MUSGRAVES ALBUM REVIEW
Far from the love-filled bliss that was Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves's new album star-crossed tells a love story that takes a twisted and heartbreaking turn, in Musgraves's signature easy-going country-pop style.
With her marriage recently breaking down, it's no surprise to anyone that Musgraves's latest release focuses on this as a concept. As the name suggests, it feels like the story is a fantastical 'Romeo and Juliet' inspired take on the very real emotions and story that Musgraves is experiencing.
The immediate thing to say about this album is that it is a project, much like Halsey's recent album If I can't have love, I want power, that works better as an entire work of art rather than singles, which is emphasised by Musgraves releasing a movie based on the album. star-crossed has the best impact when listened to the entire piece in track order, as it appears to be a story told in three parts, just like the classic Shakespeare play it's inspired by.
The album opens up with the title track which is a subtle introduction of what's to come. Immediately Musgraves's mellow vocals slip in and out of harmonies that feel like silk to the ear as the opening line "Let me set the scene" prepares us for the story being told over the next 15 tracks. A Spanish acoustic guitar takes centre stage in this song, which then goes on to compliment the final track on the album 'gracias a la vida'. It's interesting that we see this classical Latin influence on a country-based album by a country star, but this reflects that there are more musical influences on the album than previous to this release. Although star-crossed feels somewhat more country than Golden Hour, there is definitely a wider scope of influences from other genres such as pop, electro, and folk across star-crossed.
The only bugbear of the project is that it would have been nice to see a different style from previous releases. star-crossed feels like a sister album to Golden Hour, where it should feel like its antithesis. It's only on tracks like 'breadwinner' we see a more negative and experimental side to Musgraves. Musgraves has a mellow beat that thumps a bit more than we're used to, and the lyrics which really pack a punch suggesting that the antagonist of the song essentially can't cope with a powerful partner in the sense that "He wants your shimmer / To make him feel bigger / Until he starts feeling insecure"
It's understandable that this mellow and simplistic country-pop is Musgraves's style, but this would have been the perfect time to go out and try something different, and the only time we really see this is with the final couple of songs, and even then they're just a bit heavier on the production than we're used to. With the build-up, the movie, the aesthetic, and even the packaging of the physical music itself feeling dramatic, it almost feels like the actual album itself didn't build to that cinematic expectation. star-crossed is not a bad album; far from it, actually. It's a good album, but it feels like if Musgraves had gone out of the box a little more then it could have been another smash hit like Golden Hour was.