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Kacey Musgraves Builds Her Own Castle on Deeper Well

Getting in touch with her folksier roots as the genre continues to surge, Musgraves’ latest is full of songs about understanding what really matters in life. 

by Ben Boddez

In the most moving moment on folksy country-pop star Kacey Musgraves’ fifth studio album – it had this listener on the verge of tears in a public library – she ponders why she, and the world at large, goes through so much pain, asking the age-old question: “This life that we make, is it random or fate? Can I speak to the architect?” Inspired by a shooting tragedy and penned while recently divorced, it’s the kind of song that makes stunning use of one of the best vocal tones in the business – airy yet self-assured, with enough earnestness and vulnerability to let listeners feel all of the joy and pain it conveys almost as deeply as she does.

Luckily, you’ll find a little bit more joy here. After some tumultuous events in her life, the theme of the project mostly reflects Musgraves recognizing what isn’t working – romantic toxicity, attachment to material things – and cutting it loose, finding what really makes her happy. While some of these things manifest in the form of a new, healthier relationship, there are also a lot of woodland spirits and peaceful, recentring nature walks here. For someone whose career has been finding a bit of a second wind in the rise back to prominence of vulnerable, folksy songwriting about thoughtful topics – Musgraves achieved her first number one single alongside kindred spirit Zach Bryan last year – it’s an appropriate environment for a bit more of a stripped-back affair. If you love that country’s back in a big way, you can’t go wrong with someone who appreciates clever, meaningful songwriting as much as Musgraves.