Kacey Musgraves has been sitting on a couch with her husband lately, tripping on acid. She mentioned it in the middle of her show at Spencer House, an aristocratic palace in Central London, three weeks ago, introducing a new song called "Mother." She wanted her fans to know how she ended up writing a one-minute-and-twenty-second song that opens with her singing, "Bursting with empathy / I'm feeling everything," as though the clues weren't there in the line anyway. "Hope my tears don't freak you out / They're just kind of coming out / It's the music in me / And all the colors."
Colors, right? That's just the come-up. Golden Hour, Musgraves' third studio album, streaming right now over at NPR, is so euphoric and emotionally candid that you'll suspect it dissolved on your tongue. "Mother" is sandwiched between "Oh, What a World" and "Love Is a Wild Thing"—both dreamy, wide-eyed country-pop songs that have the 29-year-old Texan staggered by existence. On "Happy & Sad," she's not sure there's a word to describe how things feel tonight; on the title track, she sings to her husband: "You're my golden hour / The color of my sky." With the exception of "Space Cowboy," a small kernel of heartbreak, the whole thing floats along dumbfounded by beauty and colors and love and more colors. "Yellow, orange, red, and green and at least a million others," she sings on the perfect piano-ballad closer "Rainbow."
It would all sound corny if it wasn't coming from Musgraves, who spent her debut album singing about disharmony in her trailer park and much of her second album missing it. Growing up—leaving your hometown, getting married, all that stuff—is supposed to kill off wonderment. You're supposed to be jaded and cynical, at least. Instead, Musgraves is totally serious about the fact that everything's alright, that the world is beautiful, that love is cool, that colors are weird, we should take a walk and look at some flowers, "whatever feels good."
"I don’t need to try to make it cool," Musgraves wrote of LSD to a disgruntled fan on Twitter. "It just is. Opens my heart and mind." Country music needs more serotonin-flooded honesty. Everyone should think about sitting on a couch and tripping with someone cool. Kacey Musgraves is a genius. Colors are weird.
Listen to Golden Hour at NPR.
Alex Robert Ross likes colors on Twitter.