Album Review: Deeper Well // Kacey Musgraves

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Deeper Well is the perfect extension of Kacey Musgraves’ discography. The Album of the Year Grammy-winning album, Golden Hour, dealt with the honeymoon phase of the singer’s marriage. Then, Musgrave’s fifth studio album, star-crossed, narrated the fallout and divorce of the same marriage. Deeper Well seems to expand this into a trilogy. This pensive album chronicles moving on, prioritising oneself and finding peace after a tumultuous time.

‘Cardinal’ opens the record and is reminiscent of the more upbeat, pop approach of star-crossed. It lets us know that she has still experienced hardships as she tells us about a friend she lost. However, the subject is touched upon with a positive outlook as she sings: “Cardinal/Are you bringing me a message from the other side”. The religious imagery of the afterlife (“the other side”) combined with the hopeful symbol of the cardinal enforces this optimistic approach.To many, the bird shows that after death loved ones are still with us. The positive thinking sets the scene for what’s to follow.

The production takes a back step on the lead single, ‘Deeper Well’. This lyrically-driven track lets Kacey’s dreamy vocals shine. It deals with finding your self-worth as she lets go of people and habits she no longer wants in her life now that her “Saturn has returned”. These lyrics refer to a period of life (a Saturn return) characterised by change when Saturn returns to the same position it was in at the moment of one’s birth.

Moving on from previous experiences is exemplified perfectly in ‘Moving Out’. This song sees Kacey reminisce on all the good times she experienced in a house she is now moving out of. The outro instrumental gives the impression of her life continuing as she moves onto new things. ‘Sway’ deals with similar themes as the track sees Kacey want to “learn how to sway/Like a palm tree in the wind”. She wants to be able to move on from these experiences and not allow herself to be broken. She wants to accept what life has in store for her as she moves onto the new experiences after “Moving Out” with a carefree attitude.

On ‘Too Good to be True’, Kacey approaches a new relationship with hesitancy. It’s clear she has some scars left over from her previous failed relationship but she’s longing for a true connection that will last: “Please don’t be too good to be true” she pleads. ‘Lonely Millionaire’ continues this longing for a relationship as she slams people that only wish for money and fame. These things “can’t buy you true happiness” she sings. All she really wants is her lover. The album’s closer “Nothing to be Scared Of’ seems to shut down the hesitancy introduced on ‘Too Good to be True’. She wants to help this person to unpack their baggage, whether that’s literal or their metaphorical baggage from their past. It’s clear Kacey is cherishing human connection in this new era.

‘Jade Green’ is a standout for its atmospheric production. It further reinforces the ideas of moving on and healing from the past. It has a similarity to Lorde’s Solar Power through its spiritual wellness imagery of moon bathing and jade bracelets.

This collection of songs could have easily come across as dull due to the lack of upbeat production but Kacey is a lyrical mastermind and her ability to tell a story is what carries each song. Every theme is touched upon poetically from simple joys, like having dinner with friends, to deeper pensive thoughts, like the creation of the world’s beauties. It might not be appreciated by those who prefer production-led music but the lyrical domain is where Kacey shines.

Star-crossed was, for many, a disappointing offering after the acclaim of Golden Hour. Here, Kacey largely leaves behind the pop production of star-crossed and it’s for the better. By channelling back to her country roots through banjos, guitars and low synths, the Grammy winner shows us why she is so acclaimed. The listener can tell she feels at home in this space; it feels natural to her.

Produced with her long-term collaborators Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashin, Deeper Well incorporates aspects of folk, Americana and soft rock while remaining a sonically cohesive anthology.

Though it certainly won’t be for everybody, this personal album feels true to who Kacey is as an artist. She puts herself first and enters a new era with positivity. Deeper Well is the impeccable next instalment to Kacey’s discography.

Words by Connor Franks


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