When Kacey Musgraves’ divorce was announced last year, many joked about how it provided excellent fodder for her long-awaited fourth album. The psychedelic country-pop star toed the line of multiple genres with her Grammy-winning 2018 album Golden Hour, providing fans with a comforting collection of songs that chronicled heartbreak, euphoric LSD trips, and healing. Three years later, Musgraves returns to the country-pop realm with Star-Crossed, an album (and film) about the dissolution of her marriage. It’s a chill and contemplative record, full of gorgeous moments that, at times, get lost in the fog.
Musgraves is consistently an exceptional lyricist, and a clever one too, which she proved on her self-aware second album Pageant Material. The knowing wink comes back in Star-Crossed, as Musgraves seems in on the joke, joining the ranks of other country stars who have put out quintessential “divorce albums.”
“I’ve been to hell and back, golden hour faded black,” she sings on “What Doesn’t Kill Me,” referencing the glory days of her last album. On the song “There Is A Light,” Musgraves sings of her hope for brighter days before breaking out into a wonderfully bizarre, almost two-minute long flute solo over bongo drums. Unfortunately, these moments of risk and fun are few and far between. We know Musgraves can kill on a devastating heartbreak ballad, but there’s a few too many on Star-Crossed and they all blend together by the album’s end.
When Musgraves’ previous albums arrived, they felt like landmark events that pitched a flag in the modern country territory. With Star-Crossed, it feels more like a pitstop on the highway of Musgraves’ musical journey. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it’s clear that she needed to confront the sudden changes in her life through music. But the album leaves one wanting more, so hopefully the wait isn’t too far down the road.