Deeper Well

Deeper Well

“My Saturn has returned,” the cosmic country singer-songwriter proclaimed to announce her fifth album (apologies to A Very Kacey Christmas), Deeper Well. If you’re reading this, odds are you know what that means: About every 30 years, the sixth planet from the sun comes back to the place in the sky where it was when you were born, and with it, ostensibly, comes growth. At 35, the chill princess of rule-breaking country/pop/what-have-you has caught up with Saturn and taken its lessons to heart. OUT: energy vampires, self-sabotaging habits, surface-level conversations. IN: jade stones, moon baths, long dinners with friends, listening closely to the whispered messages of the cosmos. (As for the wake-and-bake sessions she mentions on the title track—out, but wistfully so.) Musgraves followed her 2018 breakthrough album, the gently trippy Golden Hour, with 2021’s star-crossed, a divorce album billed as a “tragedy in three parts,” where electronic flourishes added to the drama. On Deeper Well, the songwriter’s feet are firmly planted on the ground, reflected in its warm, wooden, organic instrumentation—fingerpicked acoustic guitar, banjo, pedal steel. Here, Musgraves turns to nature for the answers to her ever-probing questions. “Heart of the Woods,” a campfire sing-along inspired by mycologist Paul Stamets and his Fantastic Fungi documentary, looks to mushroom networks beneath the forest floor for lessons on connectivity. And on “Cardinal,” a gorgeous ode to her late friend and mentor John Prine in the paisley mode of The Mamas & The Papas, potential dispatches from the beyond arrive as a bird outside her window in the morning. As Musgraves’ trust in herself and the universe deepens, so do her songwriting chops. On “Dinner With Friends,” a gratitude journal entry given the cosmic country treatment, she honors her roots in perfectly sly Musgravian fashion: “My home state of Texas, the sky there, the horses and dogs, but none of their laws.” And on the simple, searching “The Architect,” she condenses the big mysteries of human nature into one elegant, good-natured question: “Can I pray it away, am I shapeable clay/Or is this as good as it gets?”

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