Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings

by Imogen Speith

For quite a while, I struggled to put into actual words what it was about Miranda Lambert’s Platinum that caused me to view it as her worst album. It wasn’t that it there weren’t enjoyable moments on the album. In fact, it had a few very strong cuts: I’ll even admit to “Somethin’ Bad” being guilty pleasure song of mine. I finally put my finger on it, though, and realized that a lot of the album came across as, for lack of a better term, like a lot of novelty songs. Songs like the title track, “Priscillia,” “Old Sh!t,” “Bathroom Sink,” and especially, “Little Red Wagon,” were either flat out bad or only rose to the level of having a certain “in the moment appeal” with little to no ability to stay with the listener afterwards.

So, The Weight of These Wings had some recovery efforts to do. Being a double album, it would take a long time to go song-by-song  in this album review, so I’m going to stick on focusing on the highs and lows of the album.

The double album is broken into two parts: “The Nerve” and “The Heart.” Part One, “The Nerve” starts off very strongly with the memorable  “Runnin’ Just In Case.” It’s a brilliant vocal performance from Lambert with great production and the arrangement is a standout.  Another major highlight of the first half of the album is “Getaway Driver.” And “Ugly Lights” which showcases that Lambert is still capable of putting forth a good drinking song without falling into the trap of sounding like someone who just never grew up (*cough* Blake Shelton *cough*).

“Vice” is the album’s first single and is a unique song that sets a good tone for the overall feel of the first half of the album. “We Should Be Friends,” is the album’s second single. It’s not the best song the album has to offer, but there’s something about the song that’s enjoyable. I’m not sure how it works as a single, but it would have had potential to be a strong album cut…one of those songs that allows the album to take a brief change in tone.

That’s not to say the first half of the album doesn’t have its faults. “Pink Sunglasses” is a song about maintaining an optimistic outlook (playing on the idea of rose-colored glasses), but its tone and style come across as the same novelty-like sound that bogged down Platinum. Luckily though, that level is kept to a minimum on this collection.

The final song on Part One of the album, “Use My Heart,” provides the link between the halves of the album with the line “I don’t have the nerve to use my heart.” Reading this, perhaps this sounds cliché or a poor attempt to link the two halves, but it doesn’t feel at all forced, and it’s a great song to end Disc One.

The second half of the album, “The Heart,” starts off with “Tin Man,” a song with thematic similarities to Kenny Chesney’s early song of the same name. Lambert sings with desperation and great emotion on the track.  “Keeper of the Flame” is another highlight of the second part of the album.  “For the Birds” is one of the few faltering points on Part Two. Like “Pink Sunglasses,” I couldn’t connect with this song or find much substance behind it.

The review of the album wouldn’t be complete without digging a bit into the inspiration behind a lot of the music Lambert is offering here. A lot more effort seems to have been put into this album than her ex-husband’s recent output. While Shelton seemed to be content to throw out mean-spirited thinly-veiled double-entendres a la “She’s Got a Way With Words” and rub it in about his new love “A Guy With a Girl,” there’s much more emotion shown in Lambert’s album (and a much bigger hand in the songwriting, giving her an opportunity to tell her listeners how she feels in her own words). She lays a lot more on the table, and it shows.  With Lambert’s album, I heard an array of emotions: anger, sorrow, sadness, regret, a sense of humor, and hope.

Lambert stepped up her game from her previous album, and the results are what you’d expect: a return to what made her so endearing in the first place. It’s not a perfect album: it has a few faults. But it’s well worth the time to listen to it through.

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