A woman holds a red flower to her face in a field, with text "DEEPER WELL" in the upper right.


The Tao of Kacey Musgraves

With an organic new sound and grounding messaging on Deeper Well, the singer brings wonder back to the world.

Kacey Musgraves has always sung like she’s passing on a lesson. That’s what set her perky country-pop apart when she broke out with 2015’s Pageant Material, brandishing her takes on Southern culture with a wink from a “dime store cowgirl.” Her 2018 Grammy-winning Golden Hour was another profound revelation that saw her so dazzled by new love that listening felt like you, too, were experiencing it for the first time. This feeling is only intensified on her new record, Deeper Well, in which she decodes messages from the universe through birds, stones, and swaying trees. Combined with a striking, organic turn in sound, its music soothes like a balm, one that feels like it’s come at just the right time.

Those who found Musgraves’ last record, Star-Crossed, to be a too-busy swerve into psychedelic pop will be glad to hear Deeper Well flows in the opposite direction. Made in collaboration with her superstar team of Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck, whom she has worked with for all her past albums, this record is perfumed with the haze of smoldering logs and pine needles. She told NYLON she’s found herself in an era of groundedness, which comes through in the verdant folk that runs through these songs. Lush banjo, guitar, and distant bird chirps transport you to the forest, with the mush of soil under your feet and the shade of trees over your head. It’s compelling to hear Musgraves, who, amid the breeze of instruments, sings with an almost disarming serenity.

You almost get the sense that in the interim years she’s reached some sort of nirvana, because of all her previous teachings, Deeper Well is her most philosophical — the closest approximation to a Tao of Kacey Musgraves. At 35, she’s seven years past her Saturn return and approaching her Saturn square, a time to show she’s made sense of all that upheaval. And what has she learned? Well, what hasn’t she? She now knows every relationship has a giver and taker, a concept introduced on “Deeper Well” that’s broken down further on “Giver/Taker.” She sees a well-timed visit from a cardinal as a sign from “the other side.” She finds wisdom in palm trees, who don’t break and “just bend” in a storm. She plucks meaning from jade stones, accidentally caught sunrises, and the perfect shape of an apple. All this creation isn't by happenstance — it means something, she insists, so much so she wants to “speak to the architect.”

If it were anyone else, these songs would come across as simple, maybe even trite. But Musgraves somehow polishes these ideas with spikes of personality that unexpectedly peek through — as she lists things she loves about her home state of Texas, she tosses in “none of its laws” — and with the sheer, straight earnestness of her delivery. But maybe the warm resonance of these ideas has most to do with their arrival at a time when cynicism and doomsaying are the prevailing narratives. It's just nice to hear someone still finding things in the world worth marveling at and to join them in the belief that “it’s in our nature to look out for each other.”

Kacey Musgraves’ Deeper Well is out March 15.