Written by Natalie Hemby, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
Fresh off of her Grammy sweep, Kacey Musgraves has serviced one of her strongest singles yet to country radio. Golden Hour has been widely praised for its sonic innovations, but what’s most interesting about the album is its underlying tension: How does a wounded soul reconcile their well-earned cynicism with their newly found unconditional love?
“Rainbow” closes out the album and completes that reconciliation. Sung to a person who has weathered so many storms that they don’t even know it’s stopped raining, it’s also a quiet suggestion that it’s our point of view that can lead us to see only the storms that surround us: “You hold tight to your umbrella, but I’m just trying to tell ya that there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head.”
You can insert an easy parallel to country radio here, something along the lines of bro country being the storm and women being the rainbow that could save the genre if the powers that be would only look in their direction. But even if we were still in the nineties heyday of women dominating the genre, Kacey Musgraves would stand out as a formidable and unique talent worthy of being a core artist for the genre.
I don’t know if the Grammys will turn the tide for her at country radio. They certainly continued to ignore O Brother Where Art Thou? and the Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way after they won the Grammy’s biggest prize. The good news is that in 2019, we don’t need to wait for radio to come around to access and enjoy the best that country music has to offer. If you’ve been curious as to why Musgraves has enjoyed such wide critical acclaim, “Rainbow” is a great place to begin your discovery of her work.