The best catharsis can come from pouring yourself into your art, and Kacey Musgraves does that here.
“star-crossed” is an album from Kacey Musgraves, following 2018’s “Golden Hour.” It is heavily inspired by her recent divorce from musician Ruston Kelly last year. It’s 15 songs in length, running for about 47 minutes.
“star-crossed” is a good album overall that deconstructs Musgraves’ relationship and divorce as it moves away from her country influences. There are some great tracks, but they lean into more pop-music stereotypes leave a slightly empty feeling at different moments.
The overall lyricism dives into Musgraves’ perception of her relationship. Pretty much every song focuses on her actions, thoughts and feelings through her relationship and life post-divorce. It succeeds by placing the listener into her head, seeing everything play out over time.
The lyrics throughout are sparse, only offering brief passages from different parts of her relationship. Sometimes, they are used to great effect as she captures the right words to project the desired feeling onto the listener, like in “cherry blossom” and “camera roll.” However, there are a few instances where more could have been said, as the short verses leave a little more to be desired like in “angel.”
That’s also a slight problem with the overall tracklist. Although there are 15 songs, most of them are really short. Most of the time, they do everything they need to and more within about three minutes. But there were several times where songs felt only half-completed, like there was more that could have been done to expand them.
The only other real issue about this album is the sound. With “Golden Hour,” Musgraves infused country with pop, crafting a catchy album around her sonic influences. However, she mostly leaves the country out of this album, shifting instead towards a more pop-inspired sound.
For the most part, she moves towards pop successfully, with several songs that have excellent grooves that capture the right vibe, even with the lyrics. But there are a few songs that sound just like any pop song, matching some of the stereotypical sad, pop ballads that infinitely play on the radio.
This isn’t a consistent issue with the album, as the listener will begin to pull moments, beats and lyrics from every song. But it didn’t do enough to set itself apart at times. It isn’t uninspired, but it feels like Musgraves is trying to extend her musical reach to different genres and hasn’t quite gotten a good grasp on it yet.
Songs like “if this was a movie…,” “angel” and “hookup scene” don’t do enough to differentiate themselves, leaving the listener without much feeling. They aren’t bad, but they’re definitely not very memorable.
That being said, there are several highlights throughout this album. A great example is “cherry blossom.” It successfully captures a moment, presumably of when she met her ex-husband, while having some of the better pop infusions in the album.
“simple times” is a great song accompanied by a great acoustic guitar, about trying to find time to take a break. Finally, “justified” and “there is a light” provide excellent catharsis, especially as Musgraves comes to terms with the world crumbling around her.
Kacey Musgraves’ “star-crossed” is a pretty good album with some highlights, but its musical departure into the realm of pop doesn’t do enough to set it apart from some of its contemporaries.
For sure, this album is enjoyable, with several songs that range from upbeat to emotionally devastating. Overall, it’s the kind of album that if the listener isn’t committed to it, they won’t find much of anything here. But those that stick with it will surely resonate with the album.
It doesn’t quite reach the heights of “Golden Hour,” but there are a few songs that get close. As a whole, it’s a fine pop album with some genuine emotions placed throughout it.
Fans of Kacey Musgraves will appreciate the lyricism and heart that the artist puts on display. If anything, let’s just hope that she continues to improve within this new sound.