Review: ‘Golden Hour’ by Kacey Musgraves

Golden Hour cover photo courtesy of MCA NASHVILLE

Kacey Musgraves released her latest, and fourth, album Golden Hour on March 30.

This album is a bit more serious than her previous albums and features more love songs than witty narratives. It is a significant shift from her previous albums in terms of sound as well – blending country-pop with disco and electronic influences.

No matter which way you slice it, there’s nothing not country about Kacey and her music, and what separates her from other country artists, both past and present, is her writing and storytelling.

Still from the official audio video for the title track Golden Hour

For example, Kacy made a big impact with her major label debut album Same Trailer Different Park, which is comprised of songs with lyrics questioning religion and small town life; extolling the pleasures of marijuana; of how you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl; and embracing the LGTBQ community (where she was the first LGTB-friendly CMA winner for Song of the Year for her song “Follow Your Arrow“).

Her song writing is so witty, and so true. You can’t help but smile and fall in love with her songs. She sings about life as she sees it, which happens to be on a relatable level for many, whether you’re from the trailer park, country, small town, or big city.

On Golden Hour:
“I have a lot more love songs this time around, and I’ve never been one to write a love song and really feel it. That probably sounds like the most depressing thing ever. [But] I’m coming off getting married and being in this golden hour of my personal life, where all these things are finally coming to fruition. I found myself inspired to write about this person and all these things he brought out in me that weren’t there before.”
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Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly wedding, October 2017. Photo by Natalie Barrett/NBarrett Photography.

Golden Hour is a gorgeous album that, to me, expresses Kacey’s true and limitless talent. My favourite songs on the album are:
Slow Burn
Lonely Weekend
Oh, What A World
Love Is A Wild Thing
Velvet Elvis
High Horse
Golden Hour

It is definitely an excellent album for listening and singing along to in the car – I can see it being a staple for me and a big part of my Summer 2018 playlist!

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check out Golden Hour – even if you don’t particularly enjoy country, I know you will find something in Kacey’s music because, as it’s been rumoured, her music is “country for those who don’t like country.” If that’s you… let me know what you think!

Review: ‘Castles’ by Lissie

Castles cover photo courtesy of Lissie’s website

Singer-songwriter Lissie released her fourth studio album Castles on March 23 and it is EPIC. The album was written largely from her farm in Iowa and follows 2016’s My Wild West (which was written during and after her move to Iowa from California).

Lissie is so brilliant and I loved her music for a long time, since first discovering an alternative version of her song ‘When I’m Alone‘ (Catching A Tiger, 2010) on YouTube many moons ago.

Photo by Gretchen Robinette

With each new album, we see Lissie experiment not only lyrically but musically as well. Castles is almost symphonic – more dream-pop than the folk-rock sound that she is known for, but while there is change, much remains the same: Lissie’s lyrical genius and her powerful voice.

Lissie is a versatile artist, and Castles isn’t the first time she’s experimented with sounds and genres. In her 2011 EP Covered Up With Flowers, Lissie covers, in her own style, six diverse songs including Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’.

According to Lissie’s website:

Castles represents a spiritual, as well as musical development: it’s a portrait of an artist who has always been on the move, and is finally creating a sense of permanency; a chance to catch her breath and reflect.

Castles is about transformation and the balance between self-reliance, the longing for love and the need of feeling whole – the trials and tribulations of life, love, and loss. It’s about walking blindly into the darkness, the unknown, only to arrive on the other side stronger than ever.

I really get the feeling that Castles is for Lissie, as much as it is for her fans.

Photo by William Aubrey Reynolds

I really love the entire album and have been listening to it on repeat since its release. The tracks that I am really digging are:
World Away
Crazy Girl
Blood & Muscle
Best Days
Love Blows

‘World Away’ and ‘Meet Me in the Mystery’ sound like they could be tracks off of a Fleetwood Mac album.

‘Somewhere’ is absolutely gorgeous, especially the part after the bridge, before the chorus.

‘Love Blows’ is a power ballad and so fun to sing and rock-out to!

‘Peace’ is so beautifully driving and ethereal – I love the guitar, I could just jam out to an instrumental of this song but Lissie’s voice and lyrics truly make the song.

Photo by Jørund Førland Pedersen

All-in-all Castles is a stellar album, easily her best release. Lissie consistently delivers, and despite experimentation, stays so, so true to herself… awesome album. I highly recommend you check it out!