Paying $40 for a candle is not usually something I would do, but when Kacey Musgraves makes a candle, it’s about as far from “usual” as these things can get. Firstly, ever since I can remember I’ve been obsessed with the smell of black pepper. Fresh ground, or packed into those tight little tins with three different types of openings — spoon, dash, or sprinkle — there’s always been something refreshing, exciting and comforting about that smell to me. I put it on everything and sometimes ground a little in my palm just to rub it around between my fingers. But I’ve never encountered it in a candle before, until Kacey’s collaboration with the trendy, queer candle brand Boy Smells
I’ve been a fan of Boy Smells for a while — one, I like supporting queer-owned businesses with my dollar, and two, they understand that a candle is not a practical purchase but an emotional one. And this might sound pathetic to some people but fuck it, buying this candle for a good friend’s birthday was one of my top five purchases during this whole nightmare year. Rummaging around in my storage unit, where everything I own currently sits because the pandemic has been hard and my living situation has been precarious at best, my friend actually mentioned how much she wished she could throw practical budgeting to the wind and spend $40 on this candle. Luckily, right then, elbow-deep in a box full of pots and pans, I got to tell her that I’d bought it for her. Naturally, I bought one for myself too. Hey, I had to get to that free shipping, and besides, my jealousy would’ve been too intense.
This candle has the delicate, wispy look of cotton candy on the outside, but instead of smelling pink and floral it veers black and velvet, musky and silky like the best kind of late night mood. The candle almost looks like it will be basic due to the current prevalence of rose gold, but the ombre shift in the packaging adds an air of elegance instead. The “Slow Burn” candle is named after the song that kicks off an album that was deemed the best record of the year by the most prominent tastemakers in the music industry. When Golden Hour won the Grammy for Album Of The Year in 2019 it cemented what longtime Kacey fans already knew — this woman is special, silly and wise, and her music is eternal.
The “Slow Burn” candle isn’t eternal, because the best things in life aren’t meant to be. The best moments end, so we can miss them, or mourn them, or begin to understand that impermanence is part of what makes them beautiful. Writing about this candle, now, after the news of Kacey’s divorce from her husband — the man who Golden Hour was ostensibly about — is fitting somehow. Because even when the relationship isn’t eternal, or when it doesn’t last, the love itself never really burns out. All those songs will still bring serenity and joy to so many, IRL circumstances be damned.
So even when this expensive candle burns down, I don’t regret the price tag. I don’t scold myself for buying something so decadent and frivolous during a year where it’s very unclear where my next paycheck will come from. Lighting a tiny flame, confined in a tight rose gold circle, and smelling the bright heat of pepper, amber and incense is a small reminder that, thankfully, nothing lasts forever. Not even this batshit, otherworldly, somber and maddening year. So light up whatever you need to get through it, and splurge where you must. That’s exactly what “Slow Burn” is all about.
Shop Boy Smells’ Slow Burn candle with Kacey Musgraves here.