Published Oct. 8, 2021
By EMMA BROWN
Since the debut of her last album in 2018, Kasey Musgraves, who began her career as a country singer, has attempted to transition to pop music, a move marked by her Sept. 15 release of the album “Star-Crossed.” The record follows Musgraves’ path through divorce, with lyrics containing themes of heartbreak and reflection.
The title track and first song in the album opens with a hymnal harmony, reminiscent of gospel music, before introducing soft guitar and harp, engrossing the listener into a peaceful scene before Musgraves sings her first note. The song sets the tone for the entire album as the singer layers her signature country music twang over a neo-pop background.
The majority of the songs on the album follow suit: Musgraves attempts to blend traditional country themes while simultaneously trying to enter a completely new genre.
The track “Good Wife” is a prime example of the disconnect between the two styles of music, as Musgraves unsuccessfully pairs lyrics about working to please a husband with an upbeat background. The lyrics uphold traditional patriarchal values within a marriage, combatting the iconic pop sound often used in songs about female empowerment. The dichotomy between the two causes the track to come off as incohesive.
Songs such as “Cherry Blossom” and “Simple Times” are emblematic of the singer’s use of pop in an attempt to elevate her country sound, which blend the two tones seamlessly, whereas songs like “There is a Light” and “Justified” represent the gaping space between traditional country and pop.
“If This Was a Movie..” uses a myriad of drum beats and synth background music to create a soothing pop song. Guitar and echoing filters add to the ambiance of the song, accentuating Musgraves’ soft tones. Though the song is well written and performed, its contemporary sound makes it an outlier from the other tracks on the album, standing out as the only true pop song.
Despite some successful neo-pop songs in the album, Musgraves reverts to her country music roots in songs like “Justified.” While in no way poorly composed, the song diverges from the singer’s tone throughout the rest of the album. “Justified” draws from the styles of musicians such as Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, as it uses the traditional progression and rhythmic patterns implemented in the aforementioned artists’ songs.
Throughout the album, Musgraves dilutes the power of her own music with simple lyrics and inconsistent tones, in an effort to appeal to fans of pop. Though the songs are catchy, the use of autotune to add echoing filters and synthetic effects distracts the listener from the artistry that Musgraves has displayed in earlier albums. While the musician’s desire to progress to another genre is not unique, Musgraves’ execution of her transitional album is not an accurate representation of her artistic ability.