Miranda Lambert is back with new music, having already released 5 songs from her upcoming album, Wildcard, due out in November. This album marks a first for Miranda, as she works with a new producer, Jay Joyce, instead of Frank Liddell, who has produced her last 6 records. Miranda has described her upcoming record as "old Miranda" but at a "whole new level". She has said that she wanted to experiment a little, trying new sounds for this project, and took her inspiration from her time spent in New York City.
I admit to being a bit concerned when I heard that Miranda was switching producers and working with Jay Joyce. I haven't always been super thrilled with Joyce's work, he's pretty hit and miss for my tastes. My concerns only doubled when I heard the third offering from the record, "Mess With My Head", but they've been soothed by the other 4 songs released. I'm very interested to hear Wildcard in its entirety. I have yet to be disappointed in an album from Miranda, so I'm counting on it being a good one as usual.
I admit that most of my concern stems from Wildcard sounding so different, production-wise, from The Weight of These Wings. I understand that artists change and evolve a little with every album, particularly those that tend to release records that mirror their personal lives. That's the way it goes, and for the most part, it does work. The Weight of These Wings was released after Miranda's divorce and centers around that time period and the emotions surrounding it. It was beautifully done all around and received a great deal of critical acclaim. I count Wings as my favorite record in Miranda's catalog, and one of my favorite records period. It spoke to me in a way few albums have. Maybe my biggest issue is that I'm just not ready to let go of the Wings era. ;)
Wildcard signals a new chapter in Lambert's life. Earlier this year she announced that she had gotten married, and now she seems to be enjoying the best of both worlds. Her sass is back at full throttle and she seems to be brimming with happiness, which clearly shows in the 5 songs released already. Below, I rank them in order of best to worst, in my humble opinion.
"Bluebird" was the 4th song released ahead of Wildcard's debut, and contains what seems to be the inspiration for the album title in the chorus, "And if the house just keeps on winning/ I got a wildcard up my sleeve". This song feels like classic Miranda, in the same vein as "Keeper of The Flame", though I believe "Flame" was done better. "Bluebird" seems to be the mission statement for the current phase of Miranda's career. She's going to keep making the music that she wants to make, and living life the way she sees fit, regardless of what others say.
The production is easy on the ears, but mainstream enough to maybe get some radio play, and the lyrics are solid, though not quite as deep as they pretend to be. Overall, "Bluebird" seems to be the strongest of the 5 songs released, due to its ability to please the general audience the most, though I feel it could use an injection of energy. There's an undertone of blandness, at least to my ears.
"Locomotive" is actually my favorite so far. It packs a punch without going overboard on the production end, marrying Miranda's rock 'n roll edge with interesting, witty lyrics. The production is really just an updated version of her original sound, particularly from her Revolution era (which happens to be my second favorite Lambert album). This was the first song Miranda chose to debut from her upcoming record, performing it during this year's CMA Fest.
It's a fun, sassy song, and, I think, a better fit as a description of where Miranda is at in this phase of her career. The word resilient comes to mind. She kicks off the song by saying that she's like a locomotive, she doesn't run out of steam, which fits Miranda's energy perfectly. She goes on to say that New York City seems ok, but that she's a little more Tennessee, alluding to her splitting her time between residences in New York City and Tennessee as a result of her recent marriage. The song brings the energy that "Bluebird" lacks.
Way Too Pretty For Prison
"Way Too Pretty For Prison" enlists the help of rising country artist, Maren Morris. Morris seems to be well on her way to cementing a place for herself in the genre, regardless of how you feel about her sound (or anything else), you can't deny that she's had a big year. The song itself is fun, sassy, and devilishly delightful. The lyrics are strong and witty, with Maren and Miranda's vocals blending nicely together as they contemplate killing the men that did them wrong. "Too Pretty For Prison" is my second favorite song out of the ones released. It's what we all wished "Something Bad" had been.
Some of my favorite lyrics from the song are "Antifreeze and Gatorade/ Arsenic in his lemonade/ Takes just one snip to bleed his brakes/ But we ain't gonna do it/ Yeah, we've been watching too much TV/ You ain't Thelma, I ain't Louise/ But if we ask 'em they'd both agree/ We should put him through it" and "He cheated, he's a villain
So let's hire somebody to kill him". It's always fun to fantasize about things you kinda wish you could do, but can't. ;)
It All Comes Out In The Wash
"It All Comes Out In The Wash" is the lead single and was the first song officially released from the record. I found it interesting that Miranda chose "Locomotive" as the first song from Wildcard to debut live, but ended up releasing "Wash" as the first single.
"Wash" is a catchy song that carries a double meaning. The single conveys a message that eventually everything comes to light, even the things we wish wouldn't, but also that our mistakes and regrets will all be washed clean. "Wash" is a grower for me, I like it more with each listen. Its feel and production is reminiscent of "We Should Be Friends" (which isn't one of my favorites, but not unlikable), but is definitely the stronger song of the two. The hook line, "you take the sin and the men, and you throw them all in/ and you put that sucker on spin" is particularly catchy. You'll be walking around with it stuck in your head long after the last notes play.
Mess With My Head
"Mess With My Head" is... well.... a mess.
This is literally the first song that Miranda has released that I absolutely can't stand to listen to. I've heard this song compared to everything from Shania Twain's '90s sound to P!nk's pop rock edge, and I'm here to tell you that none of the descriptions are accurate. This song is a good example of what can go wrong when you step far out of your wheelhouse.
I was told that this song was a "grower" and that it would grow on me after several listens..... but it hasn't yet. The song has a repetitiveness that grates on the ears, with a sound that is over-produced, showcasing how Joyce can go off the rails at times and miss the mark completely. "Mess With My Head" just doesn't sound like the Miranda we all know and love. There's nothing else to say about it.
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She works as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.