‘Deeper Well’: Kacey Musgraves’ Calm, Comforting Return (Album Review)

Kacey emerges from the other side of her Saturn’s return.

“Most of the time, all the thoughts in my mind keep me running. Show me a place where I can just think of nothing…”

After delivering 2018’s award-winning opus Golden Hour and experimenting with different sonic textures on 2021’s eclectic Star-Crossed to mixed results, Kacey Musgraves has gone back to basics and found a deeper well.

At 35, Kacey’s emerged from the other side of her Saturn’s return with a centered, instantly classic-sounding record that offers a moment of respite and self-reflection in a world that’s moving way too fast to deeply feel much of anything for too long.

With her constant collaborators Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk by her side, she cuts ties with the people and self-destructive patterns which no longer serves her (“Deeper Well”), shrugs off the fleeting highs from fame and fortune (“Lonely Millionaire”), and expresses gratitude for life’s simple pleasures instead – dinners with friends, lying in bed tracing the sunlight’s patterns on the floor – across a warm, rich soundscape that feels like a 42-minute reassuring hug and a “you’re doing great, sweetie.”

Kacey doesn’t have all the answers, of course: she imagines what it would be like to be more malleable to life’s volatility on the absolutely stunning “Sway,” and tries to find the right rhythm in a relationship (“Giver / Taker”) while worrying about allowing herself to get too vulnerable on “Too Good to Be True.”

And then there’s “The Architect,” which finds Kacey asking to speak to the celestial manager of this establishment, because she has some big questions that humans have been asking since the dawn of time.

There are mystical sonic and lyrical flourishes throughout: Kacey gets into her crystal girl bag with “Jade Green,” and connects with the complex beauty of nature (“Heart of the Woods”) all while watching for possible signs from above with the witchy Laurel Canyon vibes, Stevie Nicks-esque opening standout “Cardinal.”

Deeper Well is about making the most of the moment, giving in to euphoric love surges (“Anime Eyes”), sweetly mourning the fact that we can’t hold onto things forever (“Moving Out”), and finding those moments of heaven on Earth where we can. (“Nobody knows where we go when we die, maybe we’ll ride white horsеs in the sky. And if we don’t, then darling, tonight, that’s what hеaven is.“)

As always, Kacey’s straightforward-but-profound penmanship provides existential crises aplenty across pretty melodies woven throughout. Like “Slow Burn” before, it’s a gorgeous album anchored in gentle, anxiety-assuaging assurances and “I don’t chase, I attract”-isms, reminding us to stay present, that it’s not a race, and what’s meant for us will find us eventually.

I madе a list of everything that I’ve been busy chasin’. But if a train is mеant for me, it won’t leave the station,” she sings in the record’s final moments. “There’s nothing to be scared of.

Press play, then breathe.

Buy Deeper Well on vinyl.

Check out the MuuTunes Spotify playlist. You can also subscribe on Apple Music.

Photo credit: Kelly Christine Sutton

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