Can the world finally wake up the genius of Kacey Musgraves?
Firstly, let’s do away with all the misgivings you might have around her. Golden Hour isn’t just a country album for people to dismiss. This is world-class songwriting, stuff that gets you square in the heart and makes you not want to let go forever. Or indeed share it with anyone for fear of diluting its lustre.
Take the opener Slow Burn, for example. It matches its title as it builds its world beautifully (“Born in a hurry, always late, haven’t been early since ’88”), giving us a moment of pause in a world of music that is constantly looking for an instant fix. There are few first tracks on any album that will draw you in the way this does.
Without doubt, this is a breakthrough moment for Kacey Musgraves. Every song unwinds at her command, from the radio-ready Lonely Weekend to the disco reinvention of High Horse, the glittering show-stopper that feels like it could be her breakthrough moment. But even to say that feels like a massive disservice to the beautiful cuts on her finest work to date – Oh, What A World is the most sumptuous, irresistible love song you ever did hear, completely effacing any sense of cynicism as it melts any barrier you may have to her genre.
And through it all is Kacey Musgraves herself: poised, sincere, and never anything less than her truest self. It’s that delicate core that cuts through us gently over and over on this album, one that doesn’t need to showboat as it brings us to tears on piano ballad Mother, or wistfully gazes through her pithy missives on Happy & Sad. It’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling this off without overdoing it, but Musgraves brings the right measure of calm and restraint to every song.
Even in the album’s slighter moments – Velvet Elvis is pretty plain, but held together by its singer’s charm – Kacey Musgraves is resolutely a star. The title track sighs gently as it wears an open heart but by this point we need no further evidence: Golden Hour is exactly that for Musgraves, as she delivers an emotional, breakthrough masterpiece that deserves to be cherished for years to come.