For this Music Monday post, I (Shannon) am stepping in for a turn, since I have been excited for this album to come out. Though I am not traditionally a country music fan, I don’t really consider Kacey Musgraves a country music artist. I know there are a lot of people who would disagree with me, maybe even the artist herself, but look, I like what I like, and Kacey Musgraves, I like.
This album, Star-Crossed, is Musgraves’ divorce album. All of the songs were written about her past relationship, going through the breakup, inevitable divorce, and the aftermath. It’s not an angry album at all, and not one that takes you to the depths of tragedy, though Musgraves describes it as a modern tragedy, comparing it to “Romeo & Juliet,” That comparison is a bit much. I think that sounds pretty good for PR purposes. The good news is that there are some really great beats and of course, Musgraves’ voice is as angelic and effortless as it ever has been.
The writing and production team is the same that worked with her on Golden Hour and you can hear it throughout. Golden Hour is actually when I began being a fan of Musgraves, so it is no doubt that I would love this album as well.
The story of Star-crossed is told in 15 songs, set in three acts, similar to a Shakespeare play. The album takes you through the early part of a marriage, the trouble, and the divorce/aftermath. The way that this album opens with the track, “star-crossed” is beautiful and haunting at the same time. I swear, it feels like something Quentin Tarantino would have in one of his films. Driven by a spanish guitar, and Musgraves’ singing, “let me set the scene”, you get the feeling that this story is going to be really good.
“Good Wife” is a song that will resonate with a lot of women and those ideals that women have as being the stereotypical “good wife”:
Waking him up nice and slow, bring him coffee in bed Listen to his problems, tell him that I understand Touch him so he knows in his heart, he's the only one Try to loosen up and be more fun Yeah, I could be more fun
Another song that I think everyone can relate to is “Camera Roll” where she sings about going back into the camera roll of her phone (or past photos), reflecting on the good times. We never take photos of the bad times, so there are none of those to look at.
Each track has its own message and uniqueness, but the song with the most artistic production is “Gracias a la Vida.” Not only is the song and the story behind it mindblowing, but so is the way it was produced for this album.
Let’s start with the story: “Gracias a la Vida” was originally written by Violeta Parra, a Chilean songwriter, in 1966. In 1971 the song was popularized throughout Latin America by Mercedes Sosa, later in Brazil by Elis Regina, in the US by Joan Baez, and Canadian Michael Buble when he was helping fundraise for the Chilean people affected by the earthquake in Chile in 2010. It is one of the most covered Latin American songs in history. The song may be read as a romantic celebration of life and individual experience, but Parra intended the song as her suicide note, thanking life for all it had given her. In 1967, Parra committed suicide via gunshot.
On a much lighter note-the production: the track was produced to show the song traveling through various periods of time, perhaps since it has been recorded so many times since it has been written. It is all Musgraves’ singing and playing guitar, but produced to sound like she is in different time periods. The first part- a vinyl recording (you can even hear the crackling of the vinyl), the second is on radio, the third is on audio cassette (you can hear the hum from the cassette player), the fourth is television (the signal is lost for a moment in the middle where an old television would have also had this happen), the fifth is digital format (perfect sound) and the last is supposed to be a futuristic medium, yet to be used. Who thinks of this stuff? It’s art in its most amazing form.
Speaking of art, Musgraves used the music from her album and put it to screen in a visual film that lasts about 45 minutes long. Star-crossed: The Film is available to stream on Paramount+. FYI, if you don’t have a Paramount+ account, the streaming service offers a seven-day free trial for new customers, which allows you to watch Star-Crossed for free online the same day. You’re welcome! 🙂
Golden Hour was written about Musgraves falling in love with her former husband. Perhaps it is suitable that Star-crossed, is a follow-up, though sad, if I think about it. Musgraves says that the album is full of love and gratitude, so perhaps it should be looked at that way.
In need of more #MusicMonday thoughts? Check our our Music Monday series.