"star-crossed," which was released Sept. 10, is the fifth album of her career and brings a vastly different style and vibe compared to her previous releases — she isn't presenting herself with the Dolly Parton-inspired, pink cowboy hat aesthetic that fans have grown to love, but rather a more solemn and reflective tone.
The 2018 release of “Golden Hour” is the polar opposite of Musgraves’ most recent release. Instead of the whimsical and giddy feeling of falling in love covered in many of the songs, "star-crossed" delves into the pitfalls of her marriage.
Nevertheless, the album is performing well: On the Billboard 200, “star-crossed” currently sits in third place, proving that listeners are enjoying this change of tone, which was heavily inspired by Musgraves' 2020 divorce with fellow country star, Ruston Kelly.
“star-crossed” is Musgraves' debut to heartbreak country, but not every track is meant for sobbing with a pint of Ben & Jerry's — anger, regret and the process of healing are represented as well.
In songs such as “justified,” which has made its way to Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, the slow tune behind the lyrics shows Musgraves conflicting feelings about heartbreak. “If I cry just a little and then laugh in the middle/If I hate you and I love you," sings the country music star.
“star-crossed” has brought Musgraves' lyrical wisdom to her fellow heartbroken fans, and while songs such as “justified” leave room for tears, Musgraves also includes upbeat songs such as “breadwinner," offering a tune of empowerment to those who need it.
“I wish somebody would've told me the truth/See, he’s never gonna know what to do/with a woman like you," sings Musgraves, reflecting on what she wishes she would've known about her relationship earlier.
The album, signifying the stages of heartbreak, concludes with “keep lookin' up," which relates to not only healing but also to Musgraves' journey as a music artist. “I’ve been to hell and back/Golden hour faded black,” she writes.
“Butterflies," from her last album, captures the feelings of falling in love with someone, building off the cliché encounter of meeting someone who gives you butterflies. But Musgraves takes this feeling a step further, singing, “Now you're liftin' me up 'stead of holdin' me down,” showing the importance of being partners with someone who supports your growth as a person.
Similar messages and feelings are found in the songs from her previous album, like “Golden Hour" as well as “Velvet Elvis," truly showcasing the Western charm the Texas native has to offer.
While “Golden Hour” and “star-crossed” view love in vastly different ways, Musgraves' growth as a person and artist can be interesting to see from a fan's perspective. As most humans do, it can be easy to overlook the flaws in a relationship and only show the public the good parts.
But this often leads to heartbreak. In the transition between the two albums, similar messages seem to be one of Musgraves’ largest takeaways from her personal heartbreak.
As if the music doesn't speak enough for itself, the album art and overall aesthetic also encapsulate the message within each album.
“Golden Hour” showing Musgraves standing in front of a bright, blue sky holding a fan shows a light, carefree and joyful attitude. The “star-crossed” album shows a heart-shaped necklace torn in half with a red background, portraying sadness, fury and love once had.
In an Instagram post from Aug. 30, Musgraves announced her 2022 tour, “star-crossed: unveiled”, with the first show being on Jan. 19, 2022, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Overall, “star-crossed” has differentiated itself from Musgraves’ previous releases, but the different perspective on life, love and everything in between adequately shows her growth as an artist.