Kacey Musgrave’s new album, Golden Hour, has been on repeat since its release on March 30th, 2018. It’s a wonderfully pensive album that isn’t so introspective that it becomes un-relatable; in fact, it’s extremely relatable. Her voice is stunning throughout and compliments the arrangements perfectly. There’s fun to be had (Butterflies, High Horse, Velvet Elvis), there introspection to be done (Lonely Weekend, Slow Burn, Happy & Sad), there’s love to be explored (Butterflies, Space Cowboy, Golden Hour). It’s the perfect album for a quiet weekend, or a night in… but frankly, I’ve been listening to it all week, at all hours. It’s album that fits.
It’s a big change from the persona she explored and used as a muse through her first and second albums (Same Trailer Different Park & Pageant Material). This is a personal album, a real display of self-awareness at a specific point in time. It’s complex, but who isn’t a complex being?
It also reminds me of Mandy Moore’s Wild Hope.
I remember in 2007 when Mandy Moore was gearing up to release her first album sans the Epic Record’s branding, backing and restraints. She was molded into the pop-goddess Epic wanted her to be. If you think about it, every major label in the early ‘00’s had a blonde pop queen (Christina, Britney, Jessica, Mandy, Willa Ford [oh Atlantic] so on so forth), and Mandy was groomed to be Epic’s version. Was she successful? To a certain degree… I mean Candy is an amazing song, her self-titled sophomore album, Mandy Moore, displayed true growth and actually received critical lauding. I truly believe Mandy was trying to connect with her true self as an artist when she released Coverage. Epic’s contract ended shortly after Coverage was released (and poorly promoted to be frank) and she was free to be her true artistic self.
Who knew that there was so much soul and thoughtfulness inside the bubblegum princess. The thing is, Wild Hope is genuine, and she only continued down the singer/songwriter path with her follow-up, Amanda Leigh.
To me Wild Hope and Golden Hour are from the same family tree in a sense. They capture an artist in the middle of a self-aware conversation, so to speak. I found similarities in themes in both albums. Lonely Weekend is akin to Few Days Down. Slow Burn is a better version of Extraordinary. Golden Hour is the Wild Hope (both title tracks). The main difference is that Wild Hope was written after a public breakup, and Golden Hour was written during a flourishing relationship that was heading towards marriage. They’re similar in that they’re both pensive albums that one could listen to on a day where processing and “quiet” needs to happen… but unlike Wild Hope, Golden Hour has some energy. High Horse is a hit-in-waiting for Kacey, and I truly hope she explores that path, as commercial success should find an album like Golden Hour. Golden Hour also ends on a beautifully positive note, Rainbow. Wild Hope closes on an extremely self-aware (yet beautifully romantic) note with Gardenia.
Both Golden Hour and Wild Hope are beautiful albums in their own rights, by artists who are talented and wise beyond their years. I wonder if Kacey never really wanted to be pigeonholed into the Country spectrum, just like Mandy didn’t want to be made into a pop-tart starlet. They both have successfully produced singer/songwriter-like albums.
What are your thoughts?
Support both albums which are available on all streaming services at this time.