Lifestyle, Music

Kacey Musgraves’ “Deeper Well” Speaks to the College Experience

Kacey Musgraves released “Deeper Well” at the perfect time. 

The album came out on March 15, right at the end of spring break. I was ecstatic that it was already spring break and was spiraling down a rabbit hole of excitement for all that yet to come. But, I was also feeling a sense of sadness.

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I spent all of high school looking forward to college, and time is now going by too fast, which is leaving me fearful that I might not soak up every second of it. 

Although at a different point in her life, Musgraves understands that feeling. “Deeper Well” takes listeners on a 14-track journey of acceptance, and each song made me feel more seen by a musical artist than ever before. 

“Deeper Well” opens with “Cardinal,” where Musgraves sings about how she lost a friend and mentor but feels his presence again one morning. She sings, “Cardinal / Are you telling me I’m on somebody’s mind? / Don’t leave me behind.” The cardinal follows her for the rest of her day as a supportive sign that he is watching over her. 

The warm feeling of “Cardinal” sets the tone for what follows, but no song on the album captures Musgraves’ overall message better than the subsequent song and title track, “Deeper Well.” 

A common theme throughout the album is the multifaceted phrase “give and take.” People often emphasize the importance of learning to compromise for one another in relationships. In “Deeper Well,” however, Musgraves sees this concept as broader. She sings, “Took a long time, but I learned / There’s two kinds of people, one is a giver / And one’s always tryin’ to take / All they can take.” 

Musgraves believes some individuals are unwilling to grow for people around them. These are the people who she’s letting go of when she sings, “So, I’m saying goodbye to the people that I feel / Are real good at wastin’ my time / No regrets, baby, I just think that maybe / You go your way and I’ll go mine.” Musgraves revisits this concept in “Giver / Taker,” when she finds someone she would give everything to, but would not give the same to her. 

For college students, this sentiment rings true. When we first arrive, we are surrounded by new faces everywhere, but figuring out which people will be your people is a learning curve. In “Deeper Well,” however, Musgraves reached a point where she “found a deeper well,” finally adopting the mindset that certain people are not meant to be in your life forever.

As a college student whose first year is coming to an end, “Moving Out” was another track that felt familiar. In this song, Musgraves relays a relatable mixture of sad nostalgia and subtle excitement.

When Musgraves’ voice gets the slightest bit quieter as she sings, “We had good times, can’t deny it / And even though I feel excited / I’m kinda sad to leavin’ /  Now that autumn’s movin’ in / And we’re movin’ out,” it almost symbolizes her resistance towards, but overall acceptance of new beginnings, and the overwhelming message of growing through changes shines through once again. 

The authenticity that courses throughout the album reaches its peak in my favorite track, “Sway,” where for three minutes and eleven seconds, Musgraves desires peace of mind. In “Sway,” she asks how she can resist trying to control everything in her life. 

Musgraves sings, “Maybe one day / I’ll learn how to sway / Like a palm tree in the wind / I won’t break, I’ll just bend / And I’ll sway.” 

Everything is constantly moving in college. The constant pressure to keep up and get involved in everything can feel suffocating. It often feels impossible to find those tranquil moments Musgraves searches for.  

The track ends with precisely what Musgraves was seeking. For the last 35 seconds, the guitar fades out, and the same refrain, “I’ll sway,” repeats through layered, heavenly vocals, signifying how freeing it feels to take a moment away from everything. For those final moments, I felt completely serene while listening. 

There is something so flawless, honest and raw about Musgraves’ clear vocals and simple but effective songwriting. The only lyrics out of all fourteen tracks that I feel fell flat was the second-to-last one, “Anime Eyes,” but her comforting vocal delivery on the album’s final track, “Nothing to be Scared Of,” made up for it. 

In “Nothing to be Scared Of,” Musgraves finds a relationship where the giving and taking are equal, allowing her to put her walls down. She accepts that some things are just meant to be, singing, “I made a list of everything / That I’ve been chasin’ / But if a train is meant for me / It won’t leave the station / And pull away / I’ll come to you and drop my bags / And you’ll help me unpack them / You say I’m the only one you wanna give your love / There’s nothing to be scared of.”

As I continue my journey through college, “Deeper Well” will persist as a timeless reminder to accept the complex emotions that come with change and to search for the people and moments that bring me peace. 

When we all find the right people for us, there really is nothing to be scared of.

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