When I chose to review American country artist Kacey Musgraves this month, it was based off a one-minute listen to one of her songs on Youtube that reminded me a bit of 2008 Taylor Swift and made me nostalgic. Fast forward to several weeks later, as I sit up at night listening to The Golden Hour and wonder why I trusted my snap judgement. Musgrave’s latest album is bland, full of forgettable tunes and wishy-washy lyrics.
The album gets off to an unimpressive start with Slow Burn, which has disappointing and irritatingly disconnected lyrics like ‘Texas is hot/I can be cold/ Grandma cried when I pierced my nose’. It could have still been a salvageable song with a catchy tune, but the slow, monotonous melody just brings it down further. Lonely Weekend and Butterflies which follow are both slight improvements, with upbeat, feel-good tunes and sweet albeit cheesy lyrics. This is probably the closest Musgraves gets to Taylor Swift’s sound on her early albums, although they remain lacking in the power that good country music can have, and ultimately leave no impression on the listener.
Oh What a World, described as a ‘free-spirited ode to the magic of humankind that was written in the glow of an acid trip’ on Apple Music, lacks cohesiveness and definitely shows evidence of the latter: the lyrics rush back and forth abruptly between vague questions about mankind and a romantic subject, while the use of autotune adds nothing to the track. Mother, on the other hand, is the shortest and one of the sweetest songs on the album, with a simple acoustic backing, and lyrics describing Musgraves missing her mother.
Love is A Wild Thing and Space Cowboy are both pleasant Swift-like listens, the former being another happy romantic song with a catchy guitar intro and half-decent lyrics and the latter being a breakup song with a somewhat memorable melody. The understated use of instruments also lets Musgraves really show off her voice in these songs. On the other end of the spectrum, we have songs like Velvet Elvis and the titular Golden Hour, which have dull tunes and equally weak lyrics whose only purpose seems to be to act as fillers for the music. It’s nice to see her experiment a bit with her style in High Horse with some electronic-disco music, which is refreshing after the numerous repetitive country tracks. The final track of the album, Rainbow, is a piano ballad full of optimistic lyrics, but sadly, it remains as average as the rest of the album, causing it to end on a mediocre note.
In conclusion, I can’t really say Golden Hour is a bad album. I have no strong criticisms, but no praise either, and that’s my main issue with it: even after multiple listens, I have no feelings towards it whatsoever. All the songs seem like those you would hear in the background of a shop and then forget about within seconds of the track ending- Musgraves doesn’t showcase the best of herself or country music through this album.