Without a doubt, Miranda Lambert is one of the hardest working ladies in country today. When not touring and recording her own albums, you can find her recording and playing as part of the Pistol Annies – another fine group dominating country charts today. Whereas other performers can produce a level of fatigue by being constantly in airplay, Lambert even today retains a freshness very few performers can match vocally. Her latest album, Platinum, explores quite a bit of the lyrical territory she’s covered before; but – like the sparkle she brings to each performance – she manages to tweak her stylistic leanings a bit to evoke something a bit different than the last time she tried it.
If anything, what Platinum does for me is it establishes that she’s a force to be reckoned with, whether she’s penning her own tunes or putting her individual ‘stamp’ on something written by someone else.
Girls (4.0 out of 5.0) – Miranda’s voice takes on a terrific lyrical quality in this tune exploring the horribly mismatched battle of the sexes. Why is it men can never truly tap into why women do what they do? Of course, it’s probably as universal from the ladies’ perspective, but – as a man – I tend to think we’re horribly much more predictable than the fairer sex. It’s as true today as it was when it was first uttered: “You don’t nothin’ about girls.”
Platinum (3.5 of 5.0) – Terrifically poetic lines about the trials and tribulations of being a true individual, especially when that individual is a platinum blonde. A song that’s probably cleverer than it is anything else, and it undoubtedly means more to platinum blondes than it does to this bald-headed male. An impressive stretch but perhaps not the most interesting tune here.
Little Red Wagon (3.5 of 5.0) – Playful, sexy, innovative, snarky, and probably the most fun Miranda’s had with a tune in years. It’s a covert celebration of one powerhouse’s pronounced femininity, and no doubt it’s the kind of song ladies will be dancing amongst themselves to in bars all over Texas tonight.
Smokin’ and Drinkin’ (Featuring Little Big Town) (5.0 of 5.0) – Miranda pairs up with Little Big Town, some of the best ‘harmonists’ working in the entire world of music today; quite frankly, they could produce an album once a year, and I’d still argue it’s not enough. Terrific to see them paired here alongside Miranda’s vocals, and they sound like they’ve been singing together for years. “Here’s to all those nights …” A wonderful easy-listening tune with a wonderful, head-shakin’ refrain.
Priscilla (5.0 of 5.0) – Amazing toe-tapper that typifies a certain type of country tunes, those telling a story about a particularly fortunate (or unfortunate) soul and the struggles of being that person. “How do you get the love you want when everybody wants your man?” The bridge has some excellent guitar work. It might be a bit of an honest reflection on her own life, compliments of one of the best singer/songwriters working today. “It’s a difficult thing bein’ Queen of the King.”
Automatic (5.0 of 5.0) – This is what our lady has done exceedingly well since her professional career began. Miranda spends a few minutes reminiscing about the way things used to be not all that long ago and how we’ve changed as a consequence of it. Terrific vocals highlight a song that has an even more terrific refrain. “It’s only worth as much as the time put in …” A lesson that’s sorely lost on a whole generation of fans thanks to the digital revolution.
Bathroom Sink (4.0 of 5.0) – Miranda uses a daily object to wax on poetically about the trials of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And why not? Is there any place as private? Aren’t we hardest on the face we see staring back at us? That sink is where we stand much of the day. We primp there. We clean there. And – like she says – we still have to wash it all down. So don’t waste too much time there. A surprising backwoods rocker.
Old Sh!t (3.5 of 5.0) – Opens up like any whimsical little ditty and then turns full-blown hillbilly bluegrass, somewhere Miranda isn’t too proud to go. Creatively, she backs it up with the sound of a needle running on an old record at just the right volume to remind you that that’s the point of the song. A solid listen, but then isn’t all bluegrass?
All That’s Left (Featuring the Time Jumpers) (5.0 of 5.0) – Every album of Miranda’s has a song that excels entirely on the strength of her vocal performance. This isn’t meant to malign any or all of the other efforts; rather, it’s only to underscore that there’s always one tune that manages to claw its way to the top when compared to the other tracks. Here it is. Enjoy it in all of its twangy glory. Perfection.
Gravity Is A Bitch (5.0 of 5.0) – Opens with a player-style piano putting out the impression of an entirely different era, and then Miranda shows up to remind you that those days are long gone. A big, brash, fun song that reminds you that you can’t stop aging so you may as well buckle up and enjoy the ride as best as you can. A brilliant musical commentary for life. Bravo!
Babies Makin’ Babies (4.0 of 5.0) – The song plays out like an anthem for middle-America where these kinds of things – erm – ‘happen.’ (Maybe not every day, but it still happens.) If nothing else, it plays out a bit predictably, but Miranda backs it all with a powerful refrain the way lesser singers might ignore.
Somethin’ Bad (Duet with Carrie Underwood) (4.0 of 5.0) – Sure, it’s a good song, but Miranda’s done this kind of thing much better on previous albums so far as I’m concerned. However, it’s more an event number, primarily because it takes the two biggest and best country/pop divas at work in the recording studio today. They sound terrific together, and I’d love to hear ‘em do it again. Soon.
Holding On To You (4.0 of 5.0) – The song gives a nod to classic country tunes of a woman standing by her man, but it does so by sounding more contemporary as opposed to cashing in on the past. As she sings, we never quite understand why love does what it does to us, but it still manages to transcend any other experience we have this side of Heaven.
Two Rings Shy (3.0 of 5.0) – Another thing Miranda has a solid track record is she explores what it’s meant to be a woman in a relationship – the good and the bad. ‘Two Rings Shy’ is clearly about the bad. As she tells it, why waste mascara just to watch it running down? A bittersweet slow-movin’ rocker.
Hard Staying Sober (3.0 of 5.0) – Relationships put each of us through a share of heartaches, and country girls love to remind the men who are listening that they are one of the primary reasons drinking is so appealing. Like the track before this, ‘Sober’ is a bit too predictable for my learned tastes. It’s good, but I’ve heard far better from Miranda.
Another Sunday in the South (3.0 of 5.0) – A few years ago, I wrote something about how performers tend to these days love to close out their albums with something easy-listening and reflective, and that’s pretty much what you have here. It’s a good experience with some great lyrics; still, near the end of Miranda’s career I’d imagine this won’t be one of the tunes she’s remembered for.