Kacey Musgraves’ opening and title track “star-crossed” begins with the lines “Let me set the scene/Two lovers ripped right at the seams/They woke up from the perfect dream/And then the darkness came” perfectly encapsulating the themes of the new album – the hardships of marriage and relationships, and what it feels like to be in a relationship that is coming to an end.
Both the song and the album are inspired by Musgraves’ recent divorce, which couldn’t be more clear than in lines such as “I signed the papers yesterday/You came and took your things away.” Musgraves writes honest, vulnerable lyrics about her experience on this album, and stated on Apple music that “I think you saw my highlight reel with Golden Hour. And this is the other side of that. And, I mean, there are beautiful parts of that, too.” The country/pop star’s last album “Golden Hour” saw critical acclaim, however star-crossed strays away from her previous sound, with 80’s inspired pop and Latin-inspired guitar tracks at the forefront.
Following “star-crossed” is the track “good wife,” which details the pressures of being a good wife “even when he’s not right” and the fear of being alone. The lyrics show how society’s expectations of marriage affect women, and they are an interesting listen. Good wife features a jazzy sound, with Latin-inspired acoustic guitars in the background, and auto-tuned vocals from Musgraves. Songs such as “breadwinner” and “hookup scene” carry similar critiques on society. “hookup scene” is a critique on hookup culture, “This hookup scene/Ain’t all that it’s made out to be/You get your fill and leave empty/More lonely than before,” while “breadwinner” is a snarky track about being the breadwinner in the relationship, “He wants a breadwinner/He wants your dinner/Until he ain’t hungry anymore/He wants your shimmer/To make him feel bigger/Until he starts feeling insecure.”
“simple times” feels like a classic Kacey Musgraves track, it has a softer sound but still feels like something you can dance to. The lyrics are more angsty, with lines like ‘Cause being grown-up kinda sucks/And I’m really just missing the simple times,’ and who can’t relate to that? The accompanying music video stars actress Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House, You), rapper Princess Nokia, and Symone from Drag Race. We follow them strutting through a mall dressed in Y2K-inspired outfits, feeling like a scene straight out of Mean Girls. The music video is also a clip from the film “star-crossed”, which has been released alongside the album. It’s definitely worth a watch, (especially if you want to see a heist scene at a bridal shop.)
The second single released from the album, “justified” is a catchy pop tune, with Musgraves discussing how she’s more than justified in feeling all of her feelings after her divorce. Starting quietly, the chorus quickly picks it up and gives the song a groovy feel. Many songs on the album have an 80’s synth sound, especially tracks like easier said, there is a light, and cherry blossom. Cherry Blossom has a similar vibe to her 2020 song Easy with Troye Sivan, both songs that feel like they could play at an 80’s dance club.
Although there are many upbeat pop songs on the album, there are still a few stripped-down tracks including angel, camera roll, and keep looking up. Angel is a simple acoustic track while camera roll is more of a piano ballad. Both songs are about heartbreak, with angel having Musgraves discuss how things would be better if she were an “angel,” in other words – not herself. Camera roll has lyrics that are characteristic of any breakup, with Musgraves wrestling with deleting photos of her past partner from her camera roll.
A standout song from the album is “if this were a movie…,” with a sound different from any other track on the album. It has a dreamy, eerie sound with a melancholy instrumental and great production. The lyrics are heartfelt, talking about how life isn’t as great as the movies, and how different things would be if it was, “If this was a movie I’d be surprised/Hearing your car coming up the drive.”
The album ends on a surprising note, with Musgraves singing in Spanish in “gracias a la vida.” The song is a cover of Chilean singer-songwriters Violeta Parra’s original. It translates to “Thank You to Life” and is essentially as the title suggests, a thank you to life – the good and the bad. It’s a great way to close the album and it ties everything together.
With its vulnerable lyrics and diverse mix of sounds, star-crossed showcases a new era for the talented Kacey Musgraves. Whether you want to dance, cry, or just be plain angry – this new album has it all and you’re bound to find something you like.
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