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How The Sound Of Country Music Changed

In 2013, Kacey Musgraves emergence onto the country music scene hinted at changes that would arrive over the next five years. Musgraves’ new album, Golden Hour, might signal her freedom from that same landscape.

Kelly Christine Sutton/Courtesy of the artist

Evolution follows a familiar pattern in plenty of popular music genres. Fearless newcomers or agile established stars with credibility to burn veer from the dominant aesthetic, adopting approaches to music-making that come off as savvy correctives to what everyone’s used to hearing. And if what they’re doing really begins to catch on, bits and pieces are absorbed into the mainstream, subtly or significantly shifting the genre’s center, before something completely different comes along to catch the public’s ear. Just think of how many hip-hop trends, from the street-hardened fatalism and stark beats of trap music to the punchy, triplet flow spawned by Migos’ experimentalism, have bubbled up from the underground, and eventually even altered the feel of mainstream pop.

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