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Kylie Minogue embraces Nashville's influence on 'authentic' new album

The buzz has been building these past few weeks: “Kylie Minogue is going country!”

Her recent videos don’t belie that impression. The one for her single Dancing shows Minogue cooped up in a run-down motel room, fantasizing about boot-scootin’ with a cowboy at a  bar.
But look -- and listen -- more carefully. When she isn’t in the arms of a honky-tonk hunk, Minogue is savoring some steamy steps with mysterious masked women. The beat pumps hard, just as it did on Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, Love At First Sight, Come into My World and many of her other worldwide smashes. No one is going to mistake her for a wholesome country girl, fresh off the farm. No, this is Kylie Minogue -- sexy, sensuous and uninhibited.

That’s the real story here. Minogue’s new album Golden confirms that 33 years after stepping into the public spotlight as a teen actress in Australia, having notched more than 80 million album sales, she is as restless as the dreamer in that motel, more interested in seeing what’s outside than staying put.

“For the direction I took on Golden, I give credit to my A&R guy Jamie Nelson,” says Minogue, 49. “It was his idea to try and have this country influence. We talked about how this is the kind of thing I’ve often done throughout my career, making sharp turns. But always, I’m the common denominator. My records are always Kylie records.”

The idea felt right for Minogue, given what the country genre allows in terms of self-expression. “Golden isn’t a breakup album,” she says, referencing the end of her engagement to British actor Joshua Sasse last year. “Of course that’s part of the story. But it’s really about where I find myself in life. I felt like I was a lot more present for this album, not just kind of coasting along. I was coming back to being authentic. I don’t go out clubbing all night, so it wasn’t gonna work for me to sing about that. I wanted to make something that was more tuneful and emotional.”


Minogue sought inspiration by visiting that Mecca of tuneful and emotional songwriting, Nashville, for the first time in her life. Though she didn’t have a blueprint in mind, she sensed that the Golden saga had to begin there. “I remember clapping my hands together, looking up to Heaven and saying, ‘I just need one song! Two or three would be great but I really just need one!”

She got more than she expected. On her first day she met with Steve McEwan, a fellow Brit who spends a lot of time in Nashville writing hits for Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and other headliners. A few hours later they’d nailed down the basics for Dancing. Later she got together with other major Music Row players, including onetime Taylor Swift mentor Liz Rose; together they crafted the album’s title cut.

Her two-week visit also affected Minogue’s vocal approach. “I would never sing like I do on Golden without that country influence,” she says. “We weren’t looking for perfection. I was keeping close to the mic and doing more ‘talk singing.’ I hadn’t done too much of that before.”

The point of Golden, then, is not that Minogue is jumping on the country bandwagon. Rather, it is one stone on an exploratory path with no end in sight. “But I’m so aware of the impact of Nashville in searching for new ways of delivering a song,” she concludes. “I have to say, it’s pretty profound. Honestly, I think Golden will be with me forever.”

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