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Review: ‘Deeper Well’ is a melodic journey of self-reflection

Courtesy Interscope/UMG Nashville

By Sarah Motteler     3/26/24 11:08pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: Cardinal

Kacey Musgraves is one of the most innovative singer-songwriters within the country genre, a quality that’s been evident since she released her debut album, “Same Trailer, Different Park,” 11 years ago. Musgraves’s latest record, “Deeper Well,” melds the star’s signature country stylings with folk, resulting in a stellar collection of 14 tracks that are packed with thoughtfulness and nostalgia.

“Deeper Well” is a stylistic 180-degree-turn from “star-crossed,” Musgraves’s previous 2021 album. “Deeper Well” is also just a year removed from her divorce from fellow country singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly — where “star-crossed” is pop-inspired, “Deeper Well” is mellow. In subject matter, it’s a return to “Golden Hour,” an album about the glow of a happy relationship. If “star-crossed” is about when that glow goes away, “Deeper Well” is about being comfortable with being your own light.

The lyrics of “Deeper Well” invite further reflection, but do not demand it — all of the tracks in the album are easy listening, except for “Anime Eyes” and its tempo shifts. After all, “Deeper Well” is about making the choices that are best for your own peace and making space for yourself. Listeners can sit down and analyze verses and motifs, or just play it in the background while studying. 

“Cardinal” is a textbook example of this, as well as the top track of the album. The first track of the album, it expertly mixes sweet vocals and smooth instrumentals with messages about grief and loss. Reading into the lyrics, it’s a story about death and what may or may not lay beyond. If you just put it on for some ambience, then it’s chill folk-country to write an essay to.

Many other tracks in the album are worth a mention. “The Architect” brims with existential questions, with a mood meandering between dread and hope, under the disguise of soothing acoustic guitar. “Dinner with Friends” is, as Musgraves describes it, “about what I would miss from the other side”: a sobering concept presented in breathy vocals. “Lonely Millionaire” freshens up the classic country “money can’t buy happiness” moral with a smooth melody, harmoniously blending electric and acoustic guitar. 

“Deeper Well” is another solid entry in Musgraves’ discography, and at just shy of 45 minutes, not a large time investment to experience in its entirety. Its combination of melodic instrumentals and surprisingly deep lyrics makes Musgraves’s newest release well worth the listen.

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