Culture Pick: ‘Star-Crossed’ show all that glitters isn’t gold

Star Crossed

Haley Taylor | @hntwrites, Contributing Writer

Grammy award-winning country singer Kacey Musgraves released her fifth studio album, “Star-Crossed,” complete with a film by the same name on Paramount+ on Sept. 10. This album could be considered the sister album to her fourth studio album, “Golden Hour.” 

While “Golden Hour” is about basking in the warmth of love, “Star-Crossed” is about learning how to deal with love turned sour. Musgraves recently went through a divorce from songwriter Ruston Kelly and said part of her self-care during her breakup was working on this album.

“Star-Crossed” is Musgraves’ way of working through the stages of grief, with  songs of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This album has more ballads and medium tempo tracks than Musgraves’ previous bodies of work and proves that writing is Musgraves’ strong suit. 

Love and heartbreak aren’t new themes for Musgraves’ work, but her pain is. She takes listeners through the heartache that comes with losing a love that was supposed to last forever. The opening and title track, “Star-Crossed,” is a country-pop song featuring a Spanish guitar as Musgraves recounts the story of her divorce.

“Let me set the scene / Two lovers ripped right at the seams / They woke up from the perfect dream / And then the darkness came / I signed the papers yesterday”.

The album has a dreamlike quality. Musgraves allows herself to be vulnerable by telling her heartbreak as if it were a novel or movie, and ponders different outcomes.

Track five, “If This Was a Movie,” is all about how idealistic love is often painted in movies: how in film, everything is easy, and everyone forgives. 

“If this was a movie / I’d be surprised / Hearing your car / Coming up the drive / And you’d run up the stairs / You’d hold my face / Say we’re being stupid / And we’d fall back into place,” Musgraves sang.

On top of melancholy reflections of what could have been, Musgraves explains why her marriage eventually dissolved. As a platinum-selling singer, her tremendous success was  a point of contention in the relationship. In “Breadwinner,” Musgraves sings about men who get intimidated by independent, successful women. The song is a personal callback to  “High Horse” from her album “Golden Hour.” 

Towards the end of the album, Musgraves outlines her plan for healing with the song “What Doesn’t Kill Me” and “There Is a Light.” Both tracks encapsulate that despite this setback, Musgraves knows she still has a second chance at love. 

“There is a light / Inside of me / There was a shadow of a doubt / But, baby, it’s never going out,” Musgraves sings in “There Is a Light.” 

She manages to capture the true essence of heartbreak country music wrapped up in sleek whimsical melodies. The overall tone is more melancholy than her other albums, but there is something more empowering and uplifting about “Star-Crossed.” Underneath the psychedelic beats and lush harmonies is a feeling of hope. 

Sometimes having love and losing it is better than having no love at all. Healing is a process, and allowing yourself time is key.