Miranda Lambert

Recent Rolling Stone cover girl and one time Nashville Star runner–up Miranda Lambert who is most famous for her hell–raisin’ single “Crazy Ex–Girlfriend” is solidly mainstream Nashville country music. As a fan of the genuine country musicians of the past—Hank, Patsy, Lefty, Cash, Haggard, & Jones to name a few—I will admit to having an involuntary gag reflex when it comes to today’s mainstream country music, which is really just bland, over–produced, pop rock with the occasional fiddle or pedal steel if you’re lucky. And yet there are country stars today that know and respect the history and yes…actually have taste.

Miranda Lambert’s voice is never gonna end up in the pantheon of great singers to come out of country music, but when she recorded covers of songs by Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and Carlene Carter/Susannah Clark (the immortal “Easy From Now On”) when she first hit stardom with her Crazy Ex–Girlfriend album in 2007, I had to admit I was impressed. And these crafty ways continue on her latest, Platinum, where she records a swinging steel and fiddle cover of Tom T. Hall’s “All That’s Left” (with Vince Gill and Paul Franklin), ruminates on her fate as “a small town girl with compensation” in the album’s title track and rues lost loves in the smooth, almost 10CC–like ballad, “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” (a duet with Little Big Town), where she’s also found a way to selectively use the vocoder in ways that doesn’t make you want to laugh or wretch. “Old Shit” even has a little bluegrass flavor about it. And then there’s “Gravity is a Bitch” which she co–wrote, which is a near classic in the canon of bluesy barroom piano anthems. This girl has more going on in her music and her mind than might be apparent at first glance.

All that is not to say that Lambert doesn’t lose her footing here and there. In tunes like “Automatic” the production is revved up to ridiculous levels as she reaches too hard for a hit. And yes, to answer the obvious question, the production job, which is immense, will be too much for those who like their music recorded with fewer layers and less splash. Platinum is sonically squashed to some degree, yet the MP3 advance and finished CD I heard fell squarely into the decently well–made modern Pro Tools record category.

Catch22's picture

I've always listened to a lot of country music and the recording quality is far more likely to be superior than with modern pop recordings of the CD era.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

If you want to hear Miranda Lambert show a little chink in her commercial armor, listen to the song That's the Way That the World Goes 'Round (turn it up loud). Unfortunately, this is just a rare taste, not the norm. She's very careful to keep real music out of the room.

Maybe, if you have the guts, you might check out Stacie Collins (e.g., Baby Sister), to see how the other half lives.

Then there’s Sunny Sweeney, Elizabeth Cook, Tift Merritt, Kasey Chambers, Kelly Willis, Abigail Washburn, a whole host of other young female country singers, without the whore’s makeup and lies.

Naimdude's picture

Just sayin' I'd hit that...