Kacey Musgraves – Deeper Well

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Just like the spring, Kacey Musgraves’ latest album Deeper Well quietly emerges from the cold, dark winter rejuvenated and ready to thrive in the sun. Despite the challenges she faced over the last few years, Musgraves re-emerges content, grateful, and ready to move forward, and each song on the album clearly reflects this headspace. 

Taking a step away from bold pop songs featured especially in her last album star-crossed, Musgraves strips back her sound and allows her lyrics and vocals to shine through. Each track is more grounded and centered, incorporating sounds of nature and relying only on her guitar and the occasional banjo to share her message. Each song represents the introspective conversations she’s had with herself to understand the lessons she needed to learn to move forward. 

The album opens with the track “Cardinal,” named after the birds that thrive in her hometown state of Texas. Throughout the chorus, Musgraves asks “Cardinal / Are you bringing me a message from the other side? / Cardinal / Are you telling me I’m on somebody’s mind? / Don’t leave me behind.” Cardinals typically represent loved ones who have passed on and can bring peace and encourage transformation. For Musgraves, the cardinal also represents home, and seeing it is a reminder that no matter where she is in the world, or where she is in her own life, she’s never too far from home.

In “Deeper Well,” Musgraves declares that “My Saturn has returned,” in the first line of the song, referencing her own transformational time. In astrology, a person’s Saturn return refers to a period when Saturn is at the exact position it was when you were born and provides a push into adulthood. This astrological coming of age is being referenced more in music lately as artists like Ariana Grande are in the midst of their own return. In her conversation with the Los Angeles Times, Musgraves even acknowledges that “Saturn can be a bitch of a planet, but it’s having a moment.”  

Deeper Well represents Musgraves own reflections, allowing herself to let go of the people and habits that no longer serve her. In her interview with The Cut, Musgraves revealed that she officially gave up weed and in the song, recalls that “Everything I did seemed better when I was high / I don’t know why.” Wells symbolize community, since they were typically found at the center of a town and provide one of the most basic life needs. Water represents rebirth and cleansing and “Deeper Well” is not just about purifying herself and looking within, but also refining her tight-knit social circle that allows her to thrive. The music video also represents this gentle transformation, with imagery of nature and earthy visuals, depicting Musgraves literally emerging from the ground at one point. 

While Deeper Well is a return to her roots, the album does include sprinklings of influences from albums past. The track “Too Good To Be True” sonically sounds similar to her song “Slow Burn” from her 2019 album Golden Hour, even though they’re thematically different. Unlike “Slow Burn,” which talks about falling in love, “Too Good To Be True” is settled in and comforting. But despite the peace she feels, the hesitation from relationships past still sits in the back of her mind, with Musgraves asking her significant other “Please don’t make me regret / Openin’ up that part of myself / That I’ve been scared to give again / Be good to me and I’ll be good to you.

In the track “The Architect,” Musgraves explores the existential questions that we ask ourselves all our lives, but from a more mature lens. When people question the way the world works, it can be from a place of frustration or anger, but in the song, Musgraves asks these questions out of reflection and curiosity. Throughout the song, she muses about the way things turn out and why they turn out that way. Are they predestined? At one point, she even directly questions “​​This life that we make, is it random or fate? / Can I speak to the architect? / Is there an architect?” 

Deeper Well is purely spring in its composition, symbolism, and message. Musgraves has already proven her musical prowess and her capability to cross over into other genres if she wishes, but she never needed to prove herself. This album is a fresh start; a new beginning for her career and her personal journey. But most of all, it’s a reminder that life keeps moving forward, whether we’re ready for it or not.

For those who are in the midst of intense life changes, whether it’s their Saturn return or not, Deeper Well is a gentle reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you will emerge from the other side, enlightened and at peace.