Thursday, June 5, 2014

Miranda Lambert "Platinum" Album Review

     Miranda Lambert is back with the release of her fifth studio album, Platinum. Miranda has been one of the few bright spots in mainstream country over the years. Miranda has had the odds stacked against her in two different ways. As men dominate the charts with songs with all flash and no substance, Miranda is a female with deep, introspective songs and she still has success. Platinum is a big project, with 16 tracks to take in. It has its hit and miss moments, but overall Platinum is another great album from one of country’s most talented artists.

     The album is an interesting ride. The beginning of the record is the weakest in my opinion, which is odd. Most albums pack the best stuff at the beginning, the average stuff in the middle, and then finish strong. This album builds as it goes. Either that, or Miranda and the producers figured the first few songs were the best. Hopefully not. “Girls” is a decent opener, with empowering lyrics that the ladies will love, but really doesn’t do much for me as a male. From there, the album takes some strange paths. “Platinum” is ode to hair hue and record status. The lyrics are actually clever, if not a little predictable. The problem is the weird nasally voice that Miranda uses while being back by an all girl choir that sounds like a preschool sing-along. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just strange. “Little Red Wagon” is the token attitude song on each Miranda album, and this one just falls flat. She is way too over the top in the chorus and it just sounds hectic and messy. “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” is next, which features Little Big Town on harmony. The song has a very old-school vibe, like a Countrypolitan cut from the mid-70s before Waylon and Willie shook up the country music world. The problem here is the weird vocal effects on Miranda’s voice. It sounds like Little Big Town feat. RoboCop. The chorus is much better, but the verses just sound robotic or something. “Priscilla” is an open letter to the former Mrs. Presley asking how she was able to handle the constant attention her man always seeked and received. It isn’t a bad song at all, even if it seems a little odd to compare to Blake Shelton to Elvis. So, 5 songs in, this album seems very weak to previous Miranda Lambert albums.

     Then, at track 6, I remember why I love Miranda. “Automatic” is one of her best singles in recent memory, and she’s had some good ones. The lyrics call out the instant gratification generation with class and poise. It sounds fresh and young, instead of a prolonged “get off my lawn” moment. (Read full "Automatic" review here) The best tracks on the album are back to back with “Old Sh!t” and “All That’s Left”. “Old Sh!t” is a fun little countrified number about enjoying the older things in life, like sad old songs and vinyl records. “if it’s out of style, it’s sure to drive me wild. I’m a fan of it, old shit…”. Amen, Miranda, couldn’t have said it better myself. Furthermore, this song doesn’t just name drop old-timey goodness, it sounds old-timey. This is Miranda tipping her hat to the traditions of country with style. Then, to prove she wasn’t kidding, she records some “old shit”, namely Tom T. Hall’s “All That’s Left”, a western swing tune with The Time Jumpers. The Time Jumpers feature Vince Gill, Paul Franklin, and Ranger Doug from Riders in The Sky, along with many other talented pickers. “All That’s Left” is solid country gold. Miranda comes from Texas and lives in Oklahoma, an area with rich musical history. Miranda appreciates that history and pays solid tribute to it here. There’s more good at the end of this album as well. “Babies Making Babies” is great country storytelling and sounds like a 90’s Garth Brooks single. I could see this making some noise at radio if it was released. “Holding On To You” is another good song. Some of the lyrics sound a little like bragging, but it’s honest and intriguing. “Hard Staying Sober” is the other contender for best song on the album. It is as traditional as you can get in this day and age, with steel guitar, twangy vocals, and a sad story. If you only get a few tracks from the album, make sure “Hard Staying Sober” is one of them. “Another Sunday In The South” is another solid track and a fitting end to the album. The second half completely wipes away the slight missteps of the first half and really makes a great album. Of course, the new single “Somethin’ Bad” with Carrie Underwood is terrible. Terrible. Just simple pandering to the bro-country frat boys and using the pure superstardom of the dream duo to push a subpar song onto the radio. You are way way better than that Miranda. But, with that song aside, the album is fantastic.

     Miranda Lambert is still the reigning queen of country music. She respects the history and traditions, pushes forward to new territory, and has continued commercial success. Those are the three requirements to be a country star in my book. Platinum has some missteps, but with an album this large, there is plenty of greatness to overpower the less than stellar songs. Miranda Lambert is carrying the flag out front for country females, and she is leading the charge of women who are outclassing and outperforming their male counterparts at every opportunity. One thing that Miranda knows how to do it keep it country, and Platinum certainly does that. This is a highly recommended addition to your collection.

Standout Tracks: “Automatic”, “Old Sh!t”, “All That’s Left”, “Hard Staying Sober”, “Another Sunday In The South”, "Babies Making Babies"


"Hard Staying Sober"

"Babies Making Babies"

"Old Sh!t"

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