Album Review: Miranda Lambert - Four The Record
By: Stormy Lewis
Country Music is littered with artists the mainstream created and then never really knew what to do with. Miranda Lambert is one of those. She is not quite an Outlaw, but rather a reminder that Outlaw was a marketing term in the 1970’s that has been corrupted into a gimmick today. She is a much more complicated sort of rebel. Like The Dixie Chicks before her she created a package that fuses the kind of hardcore country older fans have missed with the kind of post Cosmopolitan attitude that younger women crave with a media friendly appearance. And like The Chicks, she comes complete with rough edges that don’t fit well into the image of a safe, clean role model. Miranda Lambert has had some issues with the mainstream, with her angry, violent songs and, oddly enough, her weight. However, as she releases her fourth album, pop culture may well be on Miranda Lambert’s side. Disney has put a hold on their once popular series of Princess themed movies and The Hunger Games, with its ferocious heroine Katniss, stands poised to take their place. With Four the Record, Miranda Lambert may have just become the female superstar country music needs.
Four The Record's Statement For Greatness
The album opens with “All Kinds of Kinds,” a mid tempo ballad that serves as a statement of purpose. It serves as an announcement from Lambert that, while there may be all kinds of people in the world, the kind she sings about may well be the kind an audience won’t like very much. “Fine Tune” borrows some sonic elements from Metal, with wailing guitar loops and a growling, crackling voice box. “My reputation follows me around,” Lambert sneers in “Fastest Girl In Town,” “only makes me want to give ‘em more to talk about.” But her partner in crime shouldn’t worry if they get arrested, “If they pull us over, I’ll turn on the charm. You’ll be in the slammer and I’ll be on his arm.” The song is a blistering sit of fun that more than makes up for repeated uses of the now cliche “baby/crazy” rhyme. “Safe” is a tender ballad about two lovers protecting each other in a relationship. “Mama’s Broken Heart,” finds Lambert at the top of her game, possibly the only contemporary country singer who would evoke The Kennedy’s in a heartbreak song. The songs ponders the generational differences between a mother and daughter over such sage advice as “go and hide your crazy and start acting like a lady” and “cross your legs and dot your I’s.” “Dear Diamond” is quite possibly the best song of the album. It is a haunting, aching ballad that finds the protagonist painfully confessing an affair to her wedding ring. “Same Old You” offers a new take on the requite Miranda Lambert Abusive Relationship song. This time a sense of weary futilism replaces the rage of songs past. “You can keep your ring and I’ll keep my daddy’s name,” she explains, “Because until I get to leaving, its just the same old me too.” “Baggage Claim,” the album’s first single, draws from the same fed-up well of pissed-off as many of her others songs. While it is neither the best nor the most interesting on the album, it should play well on the radio. “Easy Living” is a bouncy, bluesy song that poo-poos all all external forces and just relaxes in the sheer ease of being with a loved one. “Over You” is a slightly clunky, heavy handed ballad, saved by the sumptuous anguish of Lambert’s delivery. “Look at Miss Ohio,” is much more subtle and satisfying, with its tales of people both broken and slightly dinged. “Oh-me-oh-my-o, would you look at Miss Ohio, running around with her rag top down,” Lambert sings, her voice soft and sweet, “Says she wants to do right but not right now.” “Better In the Long Run” finds Lambert’s protagonist hanging on to the ragged edge of a relationship with Blake Shelton playing the part of her more pragmatic partner. “Nobody’s Fool” is a tongue-in-cheek account of an encounter with an ex-boyfriend in a bar. “I’ll just say he’s nobody and mean that I’m nobody’s fool,” Lambert belts, with equal parts pain and shame. The album closes with the lush and romantic “Oklahoma Sky.”
Miranda Lambert: Country Music Icon?
Miranda Lambert is well on her way to being one of the iconic artists of our time. Four the Record may not be the signature album that Revolution was, but it a fine addition to her body of work. It marks a new level of her fearlessness, the first time when she has been unlikeable with no apologies or mitigating features. The album also finds her taking the sort of artistic risks that she has not taken before, with less straightforward styles of country and elements of metal creeping into her work. It is an album which moves her forward in an era when artists are largely encouraged to find a formula and stick with it. Miranda Lambert has always been an artist who managed to balance the past and the future of country, and Four the Record continues that balance.
Originally posted October 30