The 33-year-old artist dissociates from her world of problems in "simple times" singing, "Wish that I could put this game on pause / skip this round / take the headset off". As with all of Musgraves' projects, star-crossed takes the Texas native in a new direction. Her music is still reliant on her country upbringing while using pop elements introduced to us in Golden Hour, but this time around soft-spoken alternative rock sounds and light R&B beats are hidden throughout the 15 songs.
In 2018, Kacey Musgraves released her third album Golden Hour, a record that was immediately heralded as the best of her career. It was a slyly subversive album, given the inherent conservatism of much of country music: here was a record which featured vocoders, songs written under the influence of LSD, and LBGTQ anthems such as Rainbow. Most of all, it was an album written and recorded after her marriage to fellow singer/songwriter Ruston Kelly, and as such was practically glowing with love and contentment.
There is no great betrayal on star-crossed; no bloodletting; no revenge. While Kacey Musgraves' fourth album intends to guide you from the early stages of a marriage through the aftermath of a divorce, the East Texas songwriter barely mentions the other person at the heart of her story, and her narrator doesn't seem all that surprised when things start heading south. The 15-track record is billed as a "tragedy in three parts"--inspired by Shakespeare and a pivotal experience on psychedelic mushrooms, paired with an expensive-looking film and the most elaborate production of her career--but Musgraves takes great pains to ground the songs in reality, where things happen subtly, quietly, and without poetry.
Did we fly too high just to get burned by the sun?
Pre-release, star-crossed had me really nervous. Knowing the context (Kacey Musgraves' high-profile divorce with fellow country star Ruston Kelly) made the album's title, that split heart necklace artwork, and the fact that it would apparently be delivered in "three different acts" (accompanied by a movie, no less!) all the more difficult to bear. It all seemed to be leading up to a cliched and blush-inducing "breakup album", an overwrought bid for a magnum opus, or perhaps both at the same time.
Kacey Musgraves officially ushers in sad girl fall with the release of star-crossed, her highly anticipated follow-up to the critical success of 2018's Golden Hour. Since receiving the Album of the Year at the Grammys, Musgraves has balanced her burgeoning celebrity with the personal pains of going through a divorce. The result is star-crossed, billed as a "modern tragedy" in three parts, which sees Musgraves explore the many emotions of the past few years while charting her path to healing.
What light through yonder window breaks? Suffice it to say on Kacey Musgraves' Romeo and Juliet inspired break-up album, star-crossed, the light is not that shared with her Golden Hour. Not anywhere close. On the album's lowest point, the utterly toothless "breadwinner" (stack up next to The Chicks' "Gaslighter," if you need proof), Musgraves bemoans that no one warned her that she was not equally yoked to her two-bit country singer husband-to-be, Ruston Kelly.
What if our darkest tragedy became our greatest triumph? That's the question Kacey Musgraves seeks to answer in 'star-crossed', her masterpiece of a fourth album. On February 10th, 2019, Musgraves defied the expectations of music's most seasoned critics in beating the likes of zeitgeist-y types Drake and Post Malone to the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Her reaction may have been memed from coast to coast, but many people watched - and subsequently fawned over - how she was able to welcome the honour beside her husband, Ruston Kelly, the muse in which her last album, honeymoon-tinged 'Golden Hour', was created.