“Let me set the scene, two lovers ripped right at the seams…”

The Kacey Musgraves comeback begins now – and she’s starting out strong.

It’s been three years since the 33-year-old singer-songwriter released the Best Album of 2018™, Golden Hour, and a lot has happened ever since.

For one thing, that entire body of work has been rendered awkward, given…she’s no longer married to the man responsible for much of that record’s floaty, love-drunk feelings. In fact, she’s “grappling” with the idea of even singing those songs moving forward.

But instead of shying away from a very public divorce filing, Kacey’s opted to dive headfirst into the drama instead and turn her trauma into art.

“I think it would have been extremely awkward if I just acted this last chapter didn’t happen for me. So I think you saw my highlight reel with Golden Hour and this is the other side of that. And I mean, there are beautiful parts of that too,” she told Zane Lowe in an interview for Apple Music.

And so, it all begins with the title track and opening song from the record: “star-crossed,” released on Monday (August 23), and written with her Golden Hour collaborators Daniel Tashian, and Ian Fitchuk.

The track couldn’t feel more appropriate for an introduction: a choir of angelic voices guides us inward towards a lone Spanish guitar, as she sets the scene of an awfully familiar tale of two lovers torn apart in the swaggering style of Nancy Sinatra, fit for a Quentin Tarantino movie. (More on this in a moment.)

I signed the papers yesterday / You came and took your things away / Moved out of the home we made, and gave you back your name,” she declares.

The song builds with intensity, as the atmospheric undercurrent grows louder, and the guitars start to sting, and a sea of electronic beats bubbles up underneath, recalling something closer to Robyn‘s brand of sadness.

What have we done? Did we fly too high just to get burned by the sun? No one’s to blame, ’cause we called all the angels to save us, called them by name. But I guess they got lost. Star-crossed…

“It was the 14th song we wrote, and actually funny that it’s the first song on that opens the album. I just really liked the definition. And I kind of came up with my own sort of too, because all the definitions that are out there are pretty antiquated from the old Bill Shakespeare days. But it’s to be fucked by love or luck. You’re ill-fated, it’s just not written in the stars. It is not for you. And everyone puts out their highlight reel, nobody’s putting out their fuck ups. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s daunting,” she told Zane.

star-crossed, the album, arrives on September 10, and the 15-track set, structured as a modern-day tragedy in three acts, “tells an extremely personal journey of heartache and healing,” and was recorded in Nashville earlier this year “in just under three weeks,” according to a press release.

“I think that there are certain aspects of this record that sound a little bit more country, I guess than Golden Hour. I don’t know. But at the same time, I feel like I’m tapping into more influences on this, widespread influences on this album. I don’t know, there are some moments that kind of bring it back to that, where you can see kind of the relation to my previous music,” she said to Zane. (She’s recently referenced everyone from Sade (!) to Daft Punk (!) as inspiration for the upcoming record.)

Kacey also had a little help along the way, in the form of psychedelics – which helped to inform the overall concept of the record.

“If you do any kind of research about psychedelics, and mushrooms, and plant therapy, it’s really helping a lot of people. And I’m not here to be any kind of advocate on that. I just know what kind of what works with me. And I would never push anyone to do anything that they’re not comfortable with. But no, it’s incredible though,” she said.

“It was at the beginning of this year. I was like, I want the chance to transform my trauma into something else. And I want to give myself that opportunity, even if it’s painful. And man, it was completely life changing in so many ways. But it also triggered this whole big bang of, not only the album title, but the song ‘star-crossed’, the concept. Me looking into the structure of tragedies themselves, as an art form throughout time. I mean back in the Greek theater, it was set around a tragedy. Oh my God, it brought me closer to myself. The living thread that moves through all living things, to my creativity, the muse…the common thread there is catharsis. I mean these audiences would go to the theater to forget about their own traumas, for just a second. And they would witness these characters, the exposition, a climax, a downfall, and then a resolution and they would all leave. Days of Our Lives.”

Along with the album is star-crossed: the film, a 50-minute film hitting Paramount+ on the same day.

The already incredible-looking movie was directed in LA by Bardia Zeinali (who also shot the “Easy” video with her and Troye Sivan), with cinematography from Black Swan‘s Matthew Libatique.

Eugene Levy, You‘s Victoria Pedretti, Princess Nokia, Drag Race Season 13 winner Symone and Megan Stalter all make cameos. There’s too much to take in from the trailer alone: the synchronized “Good Wife” choreography. The fashion. The Lady Gaga “Marry the Night” vibes. The Kill Bill Church wedding dress moment. Running with a horse! Also, is that not the LA river where Cheryl‘s “Call My Name” video was also shot?! Truly, “Gay rights!” of massive proportions.

Pre-orders for the album begin now at her shop, including a limited box that includes the vinyl, a pendant, a handkerchief, stick-on ears, prints and art cards. (!) Plus, a Target exclusive vinyl. And a CD version, with surprise versions to come at Amazon. Oh, and there’s already a track listing too.

It’s all a lot to take in, but one thing’s for sure: it’s already looking and sounding like something major is upon us, and we’re about to yee like we’ve never hawed before. Paws up, Little Muskrats.

1. star-crossed
2. good wife
3. cherry blossom
4. simple times
5. if this was a movie..
6. justified
7. angel
8. breadwinner
9. camera roll
10. easier said
11. hookup scene
12. keep lookin’ up
13. what doesn’t kill me
14. there is a light
15. gracias a la vida

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Photo credit: Sophia Matinazad