From Golden Hour, out now on MCA Nashville.
Musgraves is still a clever lyricist and inserts a comma between the words of the title:
You can have your space, cowboy
I ain’t gonna fence you in
“Space Cowboy” is the only song on Golden Hour co-written by the trio of Musgraves, Shane McAnally, and Luke Laird, who co-produced and co-wrote most of her first two albums. The new album is a bit of a change in direction from her classic country sound (vocoder! disco! yacht rock!), but with this song she’s throwing her original fans a bone.
I’ve loved her since I first saw the video of her performing “Follow Your Arrow” at the 2013 CMA Awards. I could hardly believe that this young woman in an adorable little daffodil dress was encouraging a mainstream country audience to roll up a joint and kiss lots of boys “or girls if that’s what you’re into.” She gave me hope for the future. That album, Same Trailer Different Park, is still one of my favorite albums of the decade. Every song on it is a short story with a cast of complex characters and surprising plot twists.
I’ve listened to the new album a few times now and I’m proud of her for drawing more critical attention, and I hope she sells enough albums to continue to keep doing this for as long as she wants. She’s an artist who’s certainly earned the right to follow her muse. Maybe it’ll grow on me but a lot of it reminds me of those obscure songs you hear in positions 25-40 when you’re listening to old Casey Kasem shows on the ’70s channel. It always blows my mind that there are still Top 40 hits from my childhood that I’ve never heard. But mostly they’re just boring or weird or bad. They’re songs that are fascinating to me as a snapshot of an era but make my wife say, “What is this shit?” Golden Hour isn’t boring or weird or bad, but it still hasn’t hooked me like her early stuff. But hey, at least it doesn’t sound like Dean Friedman (peaked at #26 in 1977).