9 out of 10
Love is something that doesn’t just change your life, but your perception of the world too. It allows you to find beauty in nooks and crannies where you didn’t think it lived. Love can make you express yourself in new ways.
Between the release of her last great, again, non-Christmas album, Pageant Material and the writing of Golden Hour, Musgraves met her husband, fellow Nashville singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. In the process of creating the album, the country starlet basked in the glow of her new love. The album, released last week, overflows with emotion and wonder.
Lyrically, Musgraves cuts to the feeling. Three lines into the opener, “Slow Burn,” she’s already told a story about how she was born premature, but moves slow. The singer can gracefully deconstruct a combination of emotions, as she does on “Happy and Sad.”
Musgraves doesn’t overthink, she just writes, which makes each song volatile. There is no need to visit Genius here. “Space Cowboy,” or rather, “Space, Cowboy” is a somber kiss-off reminiscent of the airport scene in Lady Bird. “Lonely Weekend,” contends the FOMO and respite we all have alone on a Saturday night.
Musically, Golden Hour can be expansive without being overly-instrumental. Using a Daft Punk-style vocoder on “Oh, What A World,” she makes a song sound like a star-filled sky. On the aforementioned “Love is Wild Thing,” music evokes the natural rushes Musgraves compares to love, like a raging river and the flower blooming between the cracks of the sidewalk.
Periodically, Musgraves diverges from country while remaining timeless and restraining from pulling a full Taylor. “High Horse,” is a shimmering disco ball that retains enough twang to not offset the album.
Golden Hour hits its stride in the first thirty seconds. The album is a tight forty-five minutes and not once does Musgraves lose her mojo. You’ll feel happy, sad, wonderous, funky, and relaxed without skipping a track.
The love Musgraves shares with her husband is precious one. Pageant Material was a fantastic work, but their newfound love brings Golden Hour to a level where it’s not just one of the best country albums of 2018, but one of the best albums of the year period.
Best Track: “Slow Burn,” but honestly everything.