KACEY MUSGRAVES – ” Love Is A Wild Thing “

Posted: December 21, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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When Kacey Musgraves says “Love Is A Wild Thing” she isn’t talking about the feral passion that animates so many rock songs. Animal lust on the order of the Troggs is left to the imagination on Golden Hour. Rather, Musgraves is comparing love to an unstoppable force of nature: a river dead-set on finding the ocean, a flower blooming through cracks in the concrete. It won’t be denied. “If you try to hide it, it’s gonna shine even more.”

She speaks from experience. Musgraves wrote and recorded Golden Hour while basking in the glow of her young marriage to fellow singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. Apparently, theirs is a casual but all-consuming affection, one that turns an evening at home into an easygoing swoon and makes a weekend apart feel like an endless toil. It’s a comfortable, lived-in kind of love, realistic about fears and flaws even as it sends her heart aflutter and sets her world on fire. Musgraves translated those sensations into the year’s most spectacular album, a collection of songs as irresistible as the romance that inspired it.

Viewed more broadly, Golden Hour is an album about family. It’s centered on her new life with Kelly, but those portraits of intimacy are accented by glimpses of Musgraves longing to reconnect with her relatives, as if moved by this fresh domestic bliss to reestablish bonds that have deteriorated over time. On “Mother,” she calls her mom during an acid trip and admits, “I wish we didn’t live so far from each other,” expressing a similar sentiment elsewhere about her sister. On the spellbinding “Slow Burn,” in the most quoted lyric on the album, she flashes back to a moment she wishes she’d handled better: “Texas is hot, I can be cold/ Grandma cried when I pierced my nose.”

These reflections are couched in gently sighing country songs that glimmer like a waking dream. From a string section that evokes Beck’s Sea Change to a vocoder chorus seemingly borrowed from Daft Punk, Musgraves distills a wide-open sky full of influences into a welcoming signature sound. This is music you can luxuriate in, charmingly simple on the surface even as it brims with gorgeous detail, lightly psychedelic but always tethered to real life. Musgraves’ lyrics are disarming in the same way, a series of plainspoken vignettes so matter-of-fact that all the clever turns of phrase take months to reveal themselves. There is no wink and no strain. Again and again, the album makes the incredible feel as natural as breathing.

Golden Hour occasionally deviates from its main themes, resulting in some of its brightest highlights: the spectral breakup ballad “Space Cowboy,” the country-disco kiss-off “High Horse,” the tender piano parable “Rainbow.” The album makes room for a complicated view of the human experience, not just lovestruck reverie. But its throughline, and the source of its enduring magnetism, is an optimism that transcends even its central love story. “Oh, what a world/ I don’t wanna leave,” Musgraves marvels. “There’s all kinds of magic/ It’s hard to believe.” In an increasingly dark and cynical society that makes living with a sense of wonder seem impossible, there was Golden Hour all year offering an alternate perspective — a respite, a salve, maybe even a compass. For 46 minutes at a time, it’s not too good to be true.

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