Miranda Lambert: ‘I’m Just Back, Bit—s!’
Miranda Lambert understands why people are taken aback by the rock sound of songs from her new Wildcard album. She doesn't understand the pearl-clutching from those who grew accustomed to the sound of her last album The Weight of These Wings and before that, Platinum.
Sure, it's been a few years since the 35-year-old rocked out like she does on "Locomotive," and during an album preview event in Nashville on Monday night, Lambert showed there's more like it on her new album, expected Nov. 1. "Holy Water" is a swamp-rocker, while "Mess With My Head" quells her most reckless impulses with a more vulnerable message. It was this song she recently contrasted with "Kerosene" (2005) after hearing both back to back during a car ride with husband Brendon McLoughlin. Someone, she shared, said the new song was a "departure" from her established sound.
"This isn’t a departure at all," Lambert told the crowd. "I’m just back, bit---s!"
The industry crowd — many of whom worked on or covered songs from her 2005 debut album — more than appreciated the sentiment. It's not true, however. Back then she was a shy 21-year-old from Texas who hid behind her guitar and songs. On Monday at the Exit/In on Nashville's west side, Lambert was playful and vulnerable, chatty and nostalgic, honest and candid.
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Wildcard is Lambert's seventh studio album, the first since the introspective songwriter record she wrote and recorded in the wake of her divorce from Blake Shelton. In 2019 she's emotionally on the other end of the spectrum, as evidenced by how she's working to promote the new project. Three years ago she didn't even put out a new biography and did very few, if any, interviews. This time she's more accessible than a politician.
The 2019 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominee performed 12 songs from the new album at the Sept. 23 event. Included in her setlist was a smoky ballad called "Dark Bars" that she shared alone on acoustic guitar. Then there was the country-as-can-be Texas swinger called "Tequila Does" that she did with her longtime guitar man Scotty Wray. This song, she revealed, was written at the same place as "Tin Man" with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. That's quite the contrast in sound and style.
A Linda Ronstadt-esque song called "Track Record" and "Pretty Bitchin'" were two that offered Lambert's ironic bite, but "Bluebird" is the song she and her audience responded to most. With teary eyes she recalled Luke Dick reciting a poem that inspired the ballad's hook. It's certainly every bit as meaningful to her as "Tin Man," but much less morose.
Toward the end of the hour-long club show, Lambert said she felt that after 15 years in Nashville, she was still just getting started. That's often as cliche as "this is my best album yet," but with her willingness to explore new sounds and dark emotions and her dedication to songcraft, it seems possible.
No, Miranda Lambert is not "back" as she wants you to believe — she's better than back, bit---s.
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