Kacey Musgraves Reveals Unlikely Inspirations for Her Next Album

by Emily Morgan

Kacey Musgraves may be one of country music’s biggest stars, yet she’s taken inspiration from artists of all genres for her upcoming album. 

As the cover story for ELLE’s upcoming issue, Musgraves revealed that her follow-up to 2018’s Golden Hour was inspired by some unusual EDM and rock music— and potentially magic mushrooms. 

Moreso, the interview also touches on Musgrave’s divorce from fellow artist Ruston Kelly— who she credits with inspiring Golden Hour. The two parted ways in July 2020 as the pandemic brought to light some issues they couldn’t resolve. 

“If you would’ve told me the night of the Grammys, ‘Hey, in two years, you’re going to be divorced and have a whole ‘nother album written,’ I would have been like, ‘F— off. No. No way,’ ” said Musgraves, who finalized her divorce from Kelly in September 2020.

“I could have coasted for another couple of years,” she said about how the pandemic forced her to sit with some issues regarding her relationship. She added that was “just not paying attention to my feelings or not really dealing with some things.”

New Kacey Musgraves’ Album Set to Be ‘Somewhat Shakespearean’

While the pandemic may have contributed to the demise of her relationship, it also came with a silver lining. Musgraves put all of her energy into songwriting during the lockdown, creating 40 songs. Additionally, 15 of those tracks will appear on her album, slated for release in late summer/early fall. 

For Musgraves, she describes the project as somewhat Shakespearean, which appears in three acts. According to Musgraves, the album’s structure came to her just days before laying down the songs. 

“The word tragedy just popped into my mind. And I was like, ‘Whoa, what if the album was formulated like a modern Shakespearean or Greek tragedy?,'” she said of the idea she had as she was laying on her bed journaling while listening to Bach.

In addition to Bach, she also sought inspiration from the late Bill Withers, Daft Punk, Sade, the Eagles, and Weezer.

According to Musgraves, the album describes “two people who love each other so much, but they cannot make it work in the physical realm to be together, because it’s just not written in the stars for them.”

Willie Nelson Weighs in on Musgraves

“It almost takes the blame off the two people, which is what I like, because it could be easy in a heartbreak to be like, ‘Well, you f-cked up, it’s your fault.’ ‘No, you f-cked up, it’s your fault.’ And it’s like, ‘No, let’s just blame the stars. Let’s just say that we’re not meant to be.’”

“She can do whatever she wants to,” her close friend and outlaw legend Willie Nelson told the publication. “I think whatever she thinks she can do, you’d better get out of the way.” 

As Musgraves puts it, Golden Hour effortlessly combined pop, country, and ’70s-esque dreaminess. It represented escapism, fantasy, and viewing life through “rose-colored glasses.” For this next project, Musgraves said fans should expect “realism.”

As she tells it, the album finds Musgraves “longing for the past, recognizing that it was imperfect and craving it anyway, thinking about the possibilities of putting oneself out there again, and then politely demurring, for now.”

Kacey Musgraves’ interview with ELLE hits newsstands on June 8.