The Ultimate Break-Up Album: Kacey Musgraves Reflects on Her Divorce in 'Star-Crossed'
The Golden Hour of Love Is Up
CREDIT: Courtesy of the Artist
After the release of Golden Hour in 2018, Kacey Mugraves’ blissful marriage seemed picture perfect. With a “Rainbow hangin’ over [her] head,” she was ready to take on the world with her partner. Fans expected another dreamy album inspired by love to follow Golden Hour, but nobody would have guessed that an album like “Star Crossed” would follow.
Reeling from her divorce, fans were curious to hear the album. Breakup songs and divorce albums, especially in the world of
country, were usually spiteful and sorrowful. However, “Star Crossed” took many by surprise when they first heard it: there was no anger or resentment, it was a realistic take on her marriage, and why it had to end the way that it did. Musgraves is vulnerable as she guides us through the stages of grief and healing from her marriage, and displays hope for the future.
Musgraves guides us through her married life as a “modern tragedy” and how it eventually crumbled, through fifteen songs that could be divided up into 3 parts: the end of a loving yet doomed relationship; balancing between recalling the good parts of the relationship while dealing with the struggles of being by yourself after the loss of a partner; and finally acceptance and hope in the end.
The album is introduced by the song “star-crossed,” and Musgraves opens with the lines “Let me set the scene / Two lovers ripped right at the seams / They woke up from the perfect dream / And then the darkness came.” It is a prologue to the album that is yet to come.
Act one unfolds with “good wife,” “cherry blossom,” and “simple times,” three bouncy and airy songs that reflect the lightness and love that the relationship had, with the tinge of sadness remembering when times were good.
In “good wife,” Musgraves prays to be a good wife to her husband and be with him through thick and thin. But as she prays for it, she also wonders if being a good wife is just a character that she has to play as her relationship is falling apart. Musgraves lets the listener in on her meet-cute in “cherry blossom,” and expresses her vulnerability in the relationship as she sings “I’m a cherry blossom, baby / Don’t let me blow away.” “Simple life” continues the lightness of the previous two songs, reminiscing on the good memories before the dark times.
Act two of the album begins with “if this was a movie,” as Musgraves begins to wonder about what she could have done differently in the relationship, and if she could have done anything to save it. She sings, “If this was a movie / Love would be enough.” But in real life, love is not the only factor in a relationship. Musgraves wonders what could be different if she had control over the setting of the scenes and the pacing of the film, a very real thought that many others have when they’re reflecting on their relationship.
“Breadwinner” is the other song that makes up the peak of act two. At this point, it is clear that the relationship is falling apart. This song is the only song on the album that subtly shades the man, as Musgraves sings “He wants a breadwinner / He wants your dinner / Until he ain't hungry anymore.” Musgraves sings about a man that fell in love with both a trophy wife and an accomplished and outgoing person. But when the wife starts to surpass him, he falls out of love because of the same qualities that he once admired about her. It alludes to Musgraves’ own relationship as she wishes “somebody would have told [her] the truth.”
Act three ends the album on the note of acceptance of the breakup and hope for the future, with the song titles reflecting her hopes as well, with “keep lookin’ up,” “what doesn’t kill me,” and “there is a light.” Musgraves notes that it is not easy to love someone, but you can only know if you try to put in the effort to find that type of love and happiness for yourself.
The last song of the album is “gracias a la vida,” a cover of Chilean singer Violeta Parra’s song by the same name. The title means “Thanks to Life,” and Musgraves embodies the message of the song, celebrating being alive and the little things that bring joy in life. She gives thanks to all that life has to offer, all the blessings that have come her way and the rest that’s yet to come.
Musgraves doesn’t exaggerate her relationship and breakup, it was grounded, and it was human. The songs and the messages are so real and raw, and so present. It isn’t fantasy or a movie, this pain and these emotions are real-life, and ordinary.
It is hard to pick yourself back up again after a breakup, and even more after a divorce. It is hard to think about yourself only again after being dedicated and giving yourself to another person for so long. Musgraves wears her emotions on her sleeves on star-crossed, and the album could not have come at a better time. She encourages the listener to stay grounded and relish their freedom, while embracing their vulnerability after a break up.
Kacey Musgraves once said that she “could probably make it on her own.” She can, and she will. And for all the listeners uncertain about the future after their breakups, you will, too.
Mia Apel is a staff writer at Rowdy Magazine for both Print and Online. When she is not writing for Rowdy, you can find her going on boba runs, cuddling her cats, and avoid going to the gym. You can find her on Instagram at @mqapel, or at email@example.com.