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  • Writer's pictureAlex Pear

Kacey Musgraves’ “The Architect”: An Offer of Solace in a Chaotic World

In "The Architect," Kacey Musgraves offers a welcoming space to grapple with life's chaos. With the charm of acoustic guitar and banjo, she navigates profound existential questions, leading listeners on a reflective journey. Her initial question, how an apple came into being, references the Garden of Eden and the limitations of this formative tale in shaping her worldview. We then join her in considering a canyon and the floods that shaped it, a nod to the Great Flood story, as well as a potential metaphor for the tumultuous journey she’s endured to make space for who she is now.

Musgraves, like many of us, is having a crisis of faith: 

"Could I pray it away, am I shapeable clay? // Or is this as good as it gets?” 

Musgraves pleads, asking if whoever is up there regrets anything, whether this was the intended plan. If Adam was intentionally molded, why can’t she feel the same guidance? 

“Is there an architect?”

Musgraves wonders at the song’s end, surrendering to the possibility that this is a system of chaos, that there is no grand design, no greater spirit guiding us. 

Amidst her musings, Musgraves reveals a vulnerable side, acknowledging her own insecurities and doubts. Through introspective lyrics, she explores the complexities of love, recognizing its power to heal and to hurt.

 “I thought that I was too broken,” 

Musgraves admits when reflecting on her current romantic relationship. 

The potency of "The Architect" is Musgraves' tepid acceptance of her uncertainty of the unfoldings around her. Self aware enough to acknowledge the limitations of her understanding, we bear witness Musgraves troubling the very processes she was taught to accept. Through this process of questioning and unraveling a set of old beliefs, Musgraves is able to offer listeners solace in also navigating life’s most difficult questions.

Like Musgraves, I often grapple with questions of control and meaning in a chaotic world. Her questions of whether it’s too late to make more space and heal old wounds are ones that I consider often. Looking back at past relationships, I often wonder how the course might have changed if I had listened more or had been open to surrendering myself; and whether I have the capabilities to show up better next time. 

When reflecting on her failed relationship in her memoir, Bluets, Maggie Nelson writes that “sometimes this pain can be converted, as it were, by ‘accepting the fundamental impermanence of all things.’” This pain that she’s referencing is the feeling of profound heartbreak, an acknowledgement that often when we love someone, it seems nothing short of grace for them to choose to make a habitat of our hearts, and vice versa. 

When something so beautiful, so seemingly destined, ends, how can we explain it? On the flip side, how can we explain it when people, mere strangers at the time, enter our lives and change our trajectories?

Through “The Architect,” Musgraves explores these questions of how to make sense of the sublime beauty and pain surrounding us, observing that love seems to enter and leave our lives randomly, and often despite our best intentions.

Like the trappings of many country songs, Musgraves wraps these vast ponderings into a neat package, embracing the new love that she has found and offering an optimistic view that chaos breeds beauty. Whatever refrain Musgraves enacts in “The Architect,” it is still a song inviting important questions:

How do we navigate our failings and forgive ourselves? Can we release the expectation of control and embrace chaos? How do we make space for growth and acceptance?

“The Architect” is a song for anyone who feels overwhelmed and is searching for the solace of someone on a shared reflective journey, accompanied by soothing acoustic melodies and Musgrave’s earnest lead vocals. 


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