Why Kacey Musgraves’ Went Back to Her Roots for ‘Golden Hour’ Album Cover Image

The cover of Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour is simple, yet striking. A vibrant blue sky makes for a stunning background as Musgraves’ long black hair blows gently in the breeze, her eyes looking down at the camera with a delicate pink hand fan covering her mouth.

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“One of my favorite parts of putting a record together is putting the packaging together and imagining what that is going to look like physically in your hands,” Musgraves expressed to members of the Nashville media in 2018 around the time of the album’s release. “As much as I love the sonic part of making an album, it’s very important for me to have the visual parts figured out as well.”

That picture became famous around the world as Golden Hour took the world by storm with its vulnerable lyrics and meditative melodies, earning Musgraves both critical and commercial acclaim. Golden Hour would go on to win all four categories it was nominated for the at 2019 Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year. It quickly became a modern classic, solidifying Musgraves as a genre-breaking crossover star.

The Cover Image

The photo was shot by Musgraves’ younger sister, photographer Kelly Christine Sutton, in their hometown of Golden, Texas. Sutton shot all of the photos that are on the cover of Musgraves’ previous albums, Same Trailer Different Park, Pageant Material and A Very Kacey Christmas.

While making Golden Hour, the singer was going through a lot of changes and wondered if she should also make changes on the aesthetic side. “I thought, ‘I love Kelly, but maybe I should try to change up the photography end of it too,'” Musgraves recalls. “‘I’ve only been seen through one lens this whole time, ‘I wonder what that would do?'”

Changing it Up

The singer booked a photoshoot in Los Angeles, complete with a production crew, hair and makeup team and several different looks. She then brought the “beautiful images” home and worked with her sister on 80 different album cover mock ups.

“Nothing felt right and it was so weird because usually it clicks right away and I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard. You don’t have to force something like that,” Musgraves explains. “These images are beautiful and I’m really proud of them, but this does not feel like Golden Hour.”

Back to her Roots

That’s when the singer decided to go back to her roots—literally. She booked a flight to Golden and told her sister to grab her camera.

“I said, ‘Kelly, get your camera out, we’re going to do what we always do,'” Musgraves says. Last minute, she decided to grab a folding fan as they headed out into a field to take photos just before sunset. They brought the photos back to Sutton’s tiny house and “immediately knew that’s the cover,” Musgraves notes of when she saw the photo.

“I love the cover, it felt like it fit the music for many reasons,” Musgraves professes. “There’s some kind of magic in making do with what you have. There’s something to be said for working with someone who’s known you your entire life. She instantly knows what I’m going to like and not like, and it made it extra special too that it was shot in Golden during golden hour. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”  

Photo by Catherine Powell/Courtesy BTPR

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