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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Harmonies of self-discovery: A journey through Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Deeper Well’

Embark on a soul-stirring journey with “Deeper Well,” an album of love, loss and the quest for inner peace.
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The album cover for “Deeper Well” by Kacey Musgraves. (Photo courtesy of Universal Music Group Nashville)

In the vibrant musical landscape of Nashville, Kacey Musgraves shines as a beacon of introspection and artistry. For Vanderbilt students, her music serves as a soundtrack to life’s journey, resonating with themes of love, growth and self-discovery. As a Nashville resident herself, Musgraves embodies the spirit of the city. With the release of her sixth studio album, “Deeper Well,” Musgraves invites listeners to explore the human experience, making this album a compelling addition to any student’s playlist.

As a longtime fan of Kacey Musgraves, I have been deeply moved by her music for years. Her ability to craft songs that resonate with the complexities of life is truly remarkable, and “Deeper Well” is no exception. Released on March 15, “Deeper Well,” marks a new chapter in Musgraves’ musical evolution. Known for her touching lyrics and progressive values, Musgraves’ journey as an artist has been one of continuous growth and exploration. 

This album builds upon the success of the critically acclaimed “Golden Hour,” which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year back in 2018. “Deeper Well” offers listeners a deeper, more introspective look into Musgraves’ psyche. Musgraves sings about a dreamy romance on “Golden Hour,” whereas “Deeper Well” is about the joy and beauty in self work. Fans had the opportunity to witness this album first hand, as Musgraves performed at Ryman Auditorium after the album was released on March 15. 

“Deeper Well” also serves as a continuation of Musgraves’ 2021 album, “star-crossed,” which she wrote in the wake of her divorce from singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. The album traced Musgraves’ complicated feelings of heartbreak and healing after the split, setting the stage for the introspective journey of “Deeper Well.”

The album opens with “Cardinal,” a mesmerizing track that begins with a lovely acoustic guitar intro. Musgraves’ ethereal vocals explore the mystical visit from a cardinal, symbolizing a message from the beyond. “Are you bringing me a message from the other side? / Are you telling me I’m on somebody’s mind?” she sings. The song builds to a captivating round with herself, inviting listeners on a spiritual journey that sets the tone for the entire album.

The titular track, “Deeper Well,” sets the stage for a deeply personal and emotionally resonant experience. Musgraves sings, “My Saturn has returned / When I turned twenty-seven / Everything started to change,” reflecting on themes of leaving behind negative energy and embracing newfound clarity. This overarching theme of self-discovery and resilience resonates throughout the album, mirroring Musgraves’ own Saturn return, a 30-year cycle of great change and introspection that occurs when the ringed planet returns to the same position in the sky as the day one was born. With acoustic guitar accompaniment, Musgraves muses on giving up weed, getting rid of people with “dark energy” from her life and determining that she’s better off “saying goodbye to the people who are real good at wasting [her] time.” This powerful anthem is full of transcendent clarity.

“Too Good to Be True” explores the complexities of new love, blending butterflies with the fear of being hurt again. Musgraves’ vulnerable lyrics, “Please don’t make me regret opening up that part of myself” and swaying melody, “Made some breakfast / Made some love / This is what dreams are made of / Please don’t wake me,” capture the essence of a budding romance with cautious optimism.

“Moving Out” paints a cinematic picture of leaving a beloved home, reminiscing on the little details that make it so special. Musgraves’ storytelling shines as she recalls memories with fond melancholy, accompanied by her guitarist Daniel Tashian’s slide guitar adding a bittersweet touch.

“Giver/Taker” delves into the dynamics of love, set against a backdrop of a sunset. Musgraves’ dreamy vocals express a desire to be wrapped in love, declaring that if she could, she would take everything her lover has to offer, showcasing the album’s theme of the transformative power of love.

“Sway” offers a lilting melody that speaks to finding peace within oneself. Musgraves’ lyrics, accompanied by Sarah Buxton and Tashian’s a cappella backing vocals, create a serene atmosphere, embodying the album’s message of acceptance.

“Dinner With Friends” lists the simple joys of life that Musgraves would miss if she were on “the other side.” It’s a heartfelt reflection on life’s pleasures that shows Musgraves’ appreciation for the beauty in everyday moments.

“Heart of the Woods” is an ode to Musgraves’ new home deep in a Tennessee forest. The song’s earthy tones and intimate lyrics create a sense of warmth and comfort. It paints an idyllic picture of nature, with images of gnomes and nymphs dancing in the moonlight, capturing the album’s whimsical essence.

“Jade Green” captivates with its imagery-filled lyrics, “I want to bathe in the moonlight until I’m fully charged / Come into my power and heal the broken heart that I carry.” The song’s musical arrangement, featuring Musgraves on dulcimer and Matt Combs on cello, viola and violin, adds to its allure.

“The Architect” stands out among fans with its banjo-laden melody, as Musgraves questions the grand design of the universe. Her lyrics ponder the existence of a creator, blending macro questions with micro observations in a thought-provoking manner and a clever exploration of faith.

“Lonely Millionaire” infuses an R&B rhythm, as Musgraves sings on the virtues of life’s intangible treasures that cannot be bought. Her soulful vocals and the relaxed melody create a calm but telling ambiance.

“Heaven Is” is a simple acoustic guitar ode to the joy of hearing a lover’s voice, enhanced by a subtle violin. Musgraves’ tender lyrics “If all I have is the light in your eyes, that’s what heaven is” evoke a sense of bliss, painting a picture of peaceful contentment.

“Anime Eyes” ventures into more adventurous musical territory, comparing new love to viewing the world through anime eyes. Musgraves declares her love at first sight through fantastical lyrics “Sailor Moon’s got nothing on me / Since the first time that I saw you you’ve given me anime eyes.” The song’s dynamic arrangement adds a unique flair to the album.

“Nothing to Be Scared Of” closes the album with a blessing-like track. The song’s reassuring message reminds listeners that there’s nothing to fear when it comes to matters of the heart. She ends the album, “But if a train is mеant for me it won’t leave the station / There’s nothing to be scared of,” wrapping us in a warm embrace of wisdom and comfort.

“Deeper Well” is a testament to Kacey Musgraves’ growth as an artist and as a person. At 35, she reflects on the lessons life has taught her, particularly the realization that the world is full of givers and takers. This theme resonates throughout the album, as Musgraves explores healing, self-care, finding happiness, rediscovering oneself and ultimately learning to believe in love again. Listening to “Deeper Well” feels like running through a flower field or baking bread in a cozy cottage in the woods, enveloping listeners in a warm, comforting embrace. It’s an album that speaks to the soul, offering solace, inspiration and a reminder of the beauty and resilience of the human spirit.

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About the Contributor
Rachel Marlowe
Rachel Marlowe, Staff Writer
Rachel Marlowe (‘26) is from Portland, Ore., and studies political science and English in the College of Arts and Science. She loves to hike, ski, horseback ride and practice yoga. You can reach her at [email protected].
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Henry
3 months ago

Amazing article! Very well written.