In July of 2020, Kacey Musgraves and fellow singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly announced their divorce, after two and a half years of marriage, via a joint statement that called the couple’s love “a soul connection that can never be erased.” Musgraves isn’t shying away from her real-life breakup in her music either, telling one recent interviewer that the follow-up to 2018’s brilliant pop-country bliss-out Golden Hour will be a full-fledged “post-divorce album, bursting the fucking bubble.” The first song to arrive from her newly announced album Star-Crossed is the opener and title track, which seems to float in the air significantly, leaving the impression that maybe later tracks are where she’ll come in with a sharp pin.

The rollout for Golden Hour began with a double A-side that included another leisurely song with interstellar imagery and a breakup theme, the stunning, wickedly punning “Space Cowboy.” By contrast, “star-crossed” feels less like a single than an introduction, partly because so much of it is introduction: It takes 45 seconds of mournful oohs and flickering classical guitar before Musgraves sings, “Let me set the scene.” What follows is a fairly literal recounting of a divorce, with papers signed, possessions divided, names changed. By the time the song gets interesting, it’s already almost over, as Musgraves repeats the titular Billy Shakespeare phrase over the type of burbling synths that might leave the Weeknd gasping. She explained to another interviewer that to be star-crossed is “to be fucked by love or luck,” but she withholds her usual cleverness and no-bullshit persona here; as introductions go, it’s tantalizing and a little befuddling.

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