Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
Kacey Mugraves seems to occupy her own little space in the country music scene. It's a space that the likes of Brandy Clark and Angaleena Presley like to peak into, but have never found the fanbase that the 29-year-old has, especially in the UK. Having just headlined the annual Country To Country festival at the O2 her stock has never been higher, and following on from the success of Pageant Material expectation has been growing for her partially LSD assisted third album.
The release into the wild of 'Butterflies' and 'Space Cowboy' supported the hints that the Texan singer had been dropping about Golden Hour being a more "trippy" record than her previous releases. The former is more of an indicator of what's to come with its loved-up lyrics permeating throughout the album. Musgraves sings about the relentless nature of love on 'Love Is A Wild Thing', the shimmeringly sumptuous slow-building opener 'Slow Burn' (possibly the best track) riffs, lyrically and musically, on taking your time over things, 'Velvet Elvis' grooves along to slyly referential lyrics comparing a new love to a velvet Elvis.
While the love theme dominates lyrically, musically this is a different beast. With more listens the layers reveal themselves, with the Katy Perry-ish 'High Horse' (a verbal burn of a boring ex) the biggest change of pace, it's possibly the song to break her out of the country niche. It's catchy as hell, and its delightfully astute lyrics give it longevity. There's the ELO vocoder opening to 'Oh What A World', the delightful openness of the heartbreaking 'Space Cowboy'. Most of the sings are backed by banjo or some sparse steel guitar, so Musgraves hasn't ditched country, but it's noticeably lighter than Pageant Material. Though to be fair, there's always been a keen pop edge to her music.
The reason that such a fanbase has gathered around the singer-songwriter is that she offers a fresh take on music, she can write a melody and a tune, she's a keen lyricist, and she can turn all of that into something as magical as Golden Hour. What really makes the case here is trying to put a finger on the standout song of the 13 here; maybe it's Rainbow (a genuinely beautiful song), or Space Cowboy. But what about Butterflies, Slow Burn, Velvet Elvis, High Horse, or Happy & Sad? It's an impossible choice; this a proper album that has zero filler. Enough said.