Golden Hour shimmers with the vivid colors that arrive when the sun starts to set, when familiar scenes achieve a sense of hyperreality. Such heightened emotions are a new aesthetic for Kacey Musgraves, who previously enlivened traditional country with her sly synthesis of old sounds and witty progressive lyrics. Musgraves barely winks on Golden Hour, disguising her newfound emotional candidness behind a gorgeous veneer of harmonies and synthesizers.
To download, click "Share" and right-click the download icon | iTunes | Podchaser The Lowdown: With Golden Hour, pop-country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves delivers a warm, vulnerable album chock-full of masterful love songs that ring pure and true. Musgraves sounds more confident as a musician than she ever has — and her superb debut album, Same Trailer, Different Park, and its follow-up, Pageant Material, were hardly meek. The Good: The record features just as many infectious odes to the magic of romance and partnership — such as sweet, dreamy single "Butterflies" and the glowing, adoring title track "Golden Hour" — as it does grounded, introspective songs that shine light into the dark spaces that eventually show up when two people commit to revealing themselves fully to one another.
Amazingly, mainstream country is still about ball-capped bros recycling hits from market-study bullet points, while Nashville's ambitious women remain the primary engine behind the greatest creative renaissance since Willie and Waylon fucked shit up in the 1970s. Kacey Musgraves ushered in the new era in 2013 with her live-and-let-live hit "Follow Your Arrow"; late last year, newbie Ashley McBryde showed it had legs with the hope-in-hard-times "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega." Each woman has a new record that furthers said renaissance, following her own arrow. The title track of McBryde's Girl Going Nowhere is a whispered anthem about crushing it in the face of doubters.
The title track of Pageant Material , Kacey Musgraves' last album, is among her subtler wordplays. "I ain't pageant material," she sings: bad with high heels, iffy on swimsuit competitions. But it's also a nod to the fact that women in country tend to produce pageant material, as in repertoire; conservative songs for big voices that might be sung, alongside "Broken Wing" maybe, by Junior Misses across the heartland.
If Kacey Musgraves did not exist, someone would have to invent her. On her first two major-label albums, the Texas singer/songwriter checked all the right boxes — musically traditional enough for old-school country fans, lyrically progressive enough for bro-country haters, versatile enough to open for Willie Nelson one minute and Katy Perry the next — without ever coming across as anything but her own genuine, charming self. Not since Taylor Swift has a country star seemed so primed for pop stardom.
Kacey Musgraves made inroads in the last decade as a country upstart with earthiness and wit. She tied together the genre's traditions (pedal steel and banjo in the recording studio, rhinestone and cowgirl boots on stage) with pithy, observant lyrics about small-town life. On her seventh studio album, "Golden Hour" (MCA Nashville), the singer-songwriter doesn't get hung up on genre.