Kacey Musgraves
Deeper Well


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sowing STAFF
March 15th, 2024 | 105 replies


Release Date: 03/15/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A cleansing rain

For Kacey Musgraves, it was always going to be difficult to escape the shadow of her past. From the unprecedented fame that came with 2018’s career-defining Golden Hour to her divorce with fellow country star Ruston Kelly, it’s easy to see how her future music would be pigeonholed into a dreaded “divorce album” or contrasted against Golden Hour, inevitably to its own detriment. Unlike its overly ambitious and uneven predecessor Star-Crossed, Deeper Well manages to sidestep most of these pitfalls entirely. It’s a piece that retreats inward to the simplest pleasures in life, knowing that when it all eventually comes to an end, they’re actually the biggest things. It’s an album not only about getting older, but also about embracing your flaws and working hard to align your actions with a vision of how you want to be remembered. Deeper Well is just what the title implies; Kacey is done with the frivolousness of youth and ready to pursue a greater purpose in life.

So I'm sayin' goodbye to the people
That I feel are real good at wastin' my time
No regrets, baby, I just think that maybe
You go your way and I'll go mine
It's been a real good time
…I found a deeper well


Musgraves’ soul searching is appropriately bare. Pastoral guitars are carefully plucked as her voice soars over stargazing melodies, all of which are brimming with simple but profound realizations. On the seminal title track, she bids adieu to anything she deems unworthy of her time moving forward while framing it all as a necessary part of life’s progression: “It's natural when things lose their shine / So other things can glow.” These sort of verses aren’t expressly poetic, but they’re better for it because they flow so effortlessly with the songwriting’s inherent simplicity. It’s a lush, verdant album full of nature and all things green, a spring like atmosphere that directly parallels Kacey’s emotional resurrection in the aftermath of some very dark times. It’s a cleansing rain.

Deeper Well’s highlights flourish with the best moments of her entire career. The title track is the obvious prime cut here, but there are numerous other gems to unearth. ‘The Architect’ is brilliant musically and lyrically, with Kacey calling the entire universe into question while pleading for answers to not just only world’s grandest marvels, but also the most basic: “Even something as small as an apple / It's simple and somehow complex / Sweet and divine, the perfect design / Can I speak to the architect?” As she muses over the mystique of human existence, pristine acoustic chords seemingly echo her inquiries with the clarity of truth. If it wasn’t intentional, then it was an accident no less beautiful than the miracles of coincidence she so fervently sings about.

Yet, most of Deeper Well is rooted in the ordinary occurrences of daily life: ‘Too Good to be True’ sways with the comforting warmth of a dreary Monday spent indoors with the one you love (“Made some breakfast, made some love / If this is what dreams are made of, please don't wake me”), ‘Moving Out’ reminisces about the memories she’s made in an old home (“Four walls and so much space / Was way more than just a place / Wasn't it, babe?”), and ‘Cardinal’ sees Kacey plunge deep into her own thoughts one morning as she sees a cardinal land on a branch and imagines it’s one of her friends who passed away unexpectedly. Again, it all feels very routine – but it’s no less beautiful, and that’s kind of the point. When we look back at our lives one day to see the whole thing for what it was, it won’t be a fixed image. It’s pointillism, and the finished product will be comprised of all the tiny moments that we brushed off as mundane.

If the record stumbles, it’s because it’s not diverse enough to justify its fourteen tracks. While all of these songs retain the charm and elegance of Deeper Well’s overarching atmosphere, too many of them get lost in the general haze. There’s a fine line between the album’s standouts and the ones that fade into the background, which speaks to Musgraves’ consistency, but there’s little to be gained from ‘Jade Green’’s idle philosophizing about charging one’s soul by bathing in the moonlight – or ‘Heart of the Woods’’ nondescript immersion in nature – when you have so many songs here that do it better and with more purpose. Although Deeper Well is by no means bloated (it’s a fairly standard forty-two minutes), it easily could have benefited from some trimming – or if not, then a few additional climaxes in the same vein as what we witness towards the conclusion of ‘Anime Eyes’. Musgraves just about perfectly executes Deeper Well’s aura, but at times it’s just a little bit too much of the same thing.

On the surface, Deeper Well may seem like a rainy day album that is too stripped-down and ephemeral to make a lasting impact. While it certainly has a few weaker tracks, the core of the record is truly breathtaking to behold. It’s a moment of self-discovery and commitment to growth that eschews the lavish tendencies of Star-Crossed for something more personal, honest, and vulnerable. Musgraves’ venture into folk is befitting of this moment’s gravity; it’s not her usual brand of gazey country-pop because she’s a woman whose life is in transformation. Her desire to ditch self-indulgent habits and home in on what truly matters is infectious, and Deeper Well serves as a reminder to do exactly that. Everyone’s focus in life will end up being slightly different, but as we grow older, we do tend to find our deeper well. It sounds like Kacey has found hers.



s
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user ratings (69)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beautiful review, Sowing.



Totally agree here. This was an awesome listen to go along with my morning coffee and I can't say that there's much that I dislike with what's here, though I do wish there were maybe a few more obvious sign posts. Golden Hour ruled because of its embracing of other pop leanings and you had stuff like High Horse tinged with disco to shake things up. This isn't Golden Hour though, and I can get down with just cozying up to some pleasant tunes. Title track and Anime Eyes are probably my favorites, but I strongly suspect I'll attach myself to some more with time. What a bounceback

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


60522 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

most of this is a pretty inoffensive box-ticking for whatever beige whimsy anyone would look to Kacey Musgraves for in 2024 to begin with, but Anime Eyes gets a shoutout as one of the worst songs of the year so far and docks it an whole increment

Scoot
March 15th 2024


22207 Comments


she's never topping golden hour

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2024


1779 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Nice write up, Sowing. I'm a little less high on it but for what it's worth, still a solid release for with some pretty pleasant tunes. And I'm with Johnny on Anime Eyes, just a very hilarious song that I'm surprised made it onto the record.

twlight
March 15th 2024


8853 Comments


Looking forward to listening. The two singles were great

autosacrifice
March 15th 2024


135 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is the album i wish she followed Golden Hour up with. super solid. doesn't nearly reach the heights of golden hour but is much better than star-crossed

caninecommander
March 15th 2024


7 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I don’t understand how people like this. The lyrics are meandering and surface level, and Kacey clearly has nothing to say here. Phoned in and lacking any of her original charm for the early records through Golden Hour.

DoofDoof
March 15th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

absolute wallpaper

zakalwe
March 15th 2024


38934 Comments


What a sort though

DoofDoof
March 15th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

true, I genuinely think her first Christmas album is her best work, snuggly

Sowing
Moderator
March 15th 2024


43957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Odal: Thanks! I agree that this is an excellent bounce back and doesn't have to live up to Golden Hour to be excellent. I agree that it needs a few more sign post songs to be more than a 4 though, for as pleasant as this all is, it probably could have been trimmed down to 10 tracks without losing its vibe.



@JOTW: I could see that for anyone who's not really into C&L styled pastoral folk (forget if you even are ftr, just noting). This feels like it's in the same space, albeit not as good.



@Scoot: Potentially agree with that



@mkmusic1995: Thank you! It's definitely very pleasant. Anime Eyes is far from my favorite thing here, but I did admire the change of pace.



@twilight: Yeah, the singles were very strong and had me thinking this could be a classic. It's not quite on that level, but I still love it.



@autosacrifice: Any album following Golden Hour would have a rough go of it, but I agree this is better than Star-Crossed.



@caninecommander: For me it's the overarching message of retreat, healing, and finding more purposeful things to pursue as you age. I can definitely see where you're coming from though, as the lyrics can be pretty nondescript/basic and the atmosphere is very much single toned.



@DoofDoof: You had me laughing at the wallpaper comment. I dunno, like others itt I get it, but this is far too lush and pleasant for me to hate.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

Nice, I'll have to check this out! As others have said, I don't see anything of hers topping Golden Hour, but I'm sure this is really solid in its own right

Scoot
March 15th 2024


22207 Comments


it's funny how she and ruston kelly have had similar trajectories, although he has certainly produced more quality out of the two overall

halloween and dying star are phenomenal

Sowing
Moderator
March 15th 2024


43957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Koris: I don't think it tops GH, but it also isn't the same type of album at all.



@Scoot: It's weird you should say that, because I was just thinking about how Kacey went the route that I was hoping Ruston would on The Weakness. I remember hearing The Mending Song and thinking how well his voice lent itself to pastoral Carrie & Lowell styled folk. The Weakness ended up being quite an uneven listen (although still very powerful in spots), whereas this is basically The Mending Song (The Album). Also, IMO, Golden Hour tops anything Ruston has done -- Halloween comes closest.



@Colton (below): The production is outstanding. Whole thing sounds very clean and sparkly -- it would be hard for me to pinpoint that as a weakness. The real issue is that there are 14 tracks here and all of them were written in the same style.

Colton
March 15th 2024


15302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this has some solid tunes but good god it actually has some of the worst production I’ve ever heard. it’s bafflingly bad at times

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Yeah

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

6 tracks in now, and I'm liking it so far. A bit on the same-y side, but it also seems to put more emphasis on atmosphere and vibes than on Kacey's previous albums. I have a feeling this one will end up being a grower (at least based on what I've already heard)

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


3978 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really lovely album Actually and honestly i kinda get SKM vibes

theBoneyKing
March 15th 2024


24439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Anime Eyes is pretty terrible but I thought the rest of this was quite lovely on first go.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


32047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll probably notch it down a bit but I really liked this one. The opener is one of my favorite songs this year so far. Great review Sow.



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