The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday November 29th

Column: Musgraves' "star-crossed" reaches cosmic heights of heartbreak

DTH Photo Illustration. Assistant Photo Editor Ira Wilder poses by a guitar as he prepares to review Kacey Musgrave's new genre-bending country album, "star-crossed."
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. Assistant Photo Editor Ira Wilder poses by a guitar as he prepares to review Kacey Musgrave's new genre-bending country album, "star-crossed."

Genre-bending country musician Kacey Musgraves released her fourth studio album, “star-crossed” on Friday. Victorious, unguarded and content, the album is a walk through the end of a marriage – a cloudless, limitless desert of personal reflection. 

It’s very rare that I have no serious qualms with an album, but much like her previous albums, “star-crossed” proves Musgrave’s ability to execute well thought out, enjoyable music. 

This album is not ambitious, and that’s okay. “Star-crossed” has a simple, classic appeal. Her lyrics are not poetic; in fact, they’re almost conversational. Anyone who has been through a breakup will find it relatable on the first listen. 

Much like her junior album, “Golden Hour,” Musgraves takes a thorough dive into the human experience. As “Golden Hour” is a blissful ode to love, “star-crossed” is an emotional rollercoaster of unease, loss, guilt and acceptance. 

I must say that it is extremely unsettling that Musgraves’ previous album “Golden Hour” and “star-crossed” were written about the same person: Musgraves’ now ex-husband Ruston Kelly, who she was married to for three years. 

The fact that “You’re my golden hour/ The color of my sky/ You set my world on fire/ And I know, I know everything’s gonna be alright” and “I see the games a mile away/ They only end when another heart breaks/ But all of his wounds ain't an excuse/ For you to put up with how he treats you” were written within four years about the same person quite honestly incites personal trust issues. 

Musgraves has an astute talent of mastering aesthetics. Blending folk, contemporary pop, disco and country, the album is a 47-minute collection of music that could be the soundtrack for anything, from a John Wayne-era western to a teenage coming-of-age film.

The entire album is a euphonious, excellent symphony. However, highlights on “star-crossed” include “cherry blossom,” “breadwinner” and “camera roll.”

“cherry blossom” acts as a prelude to the breakup portion of the album. With a lyrical motif of “I’m your cherry blossom baby/ Don’t let me blow away,” this song is a foreshadow to impending emotional disaster. 

“breadwinner” is as close to a diss track as we are probably ever gonna get from Musgraves. A celebration of powerful women, “breadwinner” is a scathing explication of the facetious threats that men often feel when in relationships with women more successful than themselves. 

“camera roll” is by far the most depressing and most relatable piece on the album. Photos on your camera roll are often cruel reminders of what once was and what could have been. It’s a common experience, but I have never heard it put into song form like this. With “Anyway, thanks/ For all the nights and the days/ And everything that you gave/ I'll never erase it/ There's one where we look so in love/ Before we lost all the sun/ And I made you take it,” the outro of the song leaves me alone in the dark, just like Musgraves. 

As country music faces its own slew of problems, Musgraves continues to expand the musical inclusivity of the genre with a practically impeccable, triumphant sound.


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